Background There is an increasing need for finer spatial resolution data on malaria risk to provide micro-stratification to guide sub-national strategic plans. Here, spatial-statistical techniques are used to exploit routine data to depict sub-national heterogeneities in test positivity rate (TPR) for malaria among patients attending health facilities in Kenya.
Methods Routine data from health facilities (n=1,804) representing all ages over 24 months (2018-2019) were assembled across 8 counties (62 sub-counties) in Western Kenya. Statistical model-based approaches were used to quantify heterogeneities in TPR and uncertainty at fine spatial resolution adjusting for missingness, population distribution, spatial data structure, month, and type of health facility.
Results The overall monthly reporting rate was 78.7% (IQR 75.0-100.0) and public-based health facilities were more likely than private facilities to report ≥12 months (OR 5.7, 95% CI 4.3-7.5). There was marked heterogeneity in population-weighted TPR with sub-counties in the north of the lake-endemic region exhibiting the highest rates (exceedance probability >70% with 90% certainty) where approximately 2.7 million (28.5%) people reside. At micro-level the lowest rates were in 14 sub-counties (exceedance probability <30% with 90% certainty) where approximately 2.2 million (23.1%) people lived and indoor residual spraying had been conducted since 2017.
Conclusion The value of routine health data on TPR can be enhanced when adjusting for underlying population and spatial structures of the data, highlighting small-scale heterogeneities in malaria risk often masked in broad national stratifications. Future research should aim at relating these heterogeneities in TPR with traditional community-level prevalence to improve tailoring malaria control activities at sub-national levels.