Determining important parameters in the spread of malaria through the sensitivity analysis of a mathematical model

Bull Math Biol. 2008 Jul;70(5):1272-96. doi: 10.1007/s11538-008-9299-0. Epub 2008 Feb 22.


We perform sensitivity analyses on a mathematical model of malaria transmission to determine the relative importance of model parameters to disease transmission and prevalence. We compile two sets of baseline parameter values: one for areas of high transmission and one for low transmission. We compute sensitivity indices of the reproductive number (which measures initial disease transmission) and the endemic equilibrium point (which measures disease prevalence) to the parameters at the baseline values. We find that in areas of low transmission, the reproductive number and the equilibrium proportion of infectious humans are most sensitive to the mosquito biting rate. In areas of high transmission, the reproductive number is again most sensitive to the mosquito biting rate, but the equilibrium proportion of infectious humans is most sensitive to the human recovery rate. This suggests strategies that target the mosquito biting rate (such as the use of insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying) and those that target the human recovery rate (such as the prompt diagnosis and treatment of infectious individuals) can be successful in controlling malaria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Anopheles / parasitology
  • Anopheles / physiology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Malaria / immunology
  • Malaria / transmission*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Plasmodium / immunology
  • Plasmodium / physiology
  • Population Dynamics