Low-Quality Housing Is Associated With Increased Risk of Malaria Infection: A National Population-Based Study From the Low Transmission Setting of Swaziland

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2017 Apr 6;4(2):ofx071. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofx071. eCollection Spring 2017.


Background: Low-quality housing may confer risk of malaria infection, but evidence in low transmission settings is limited.

Methods: To examine the relationship between individual level housing quality and locally acquired infection in children and adults, a population-based cross-sectional analysis was performed using existing surveillance data from the low transmission setting of Swaziland. From 2012 to 2015, cases were identified through standard diagnostics in health facilities and by loop-mediated isothermal amplification in active surveillance, with uninfected subjects being household members and neighbors. Housing was visually assessed in a home visit and then classified as low, high, or medium quality, based on housing components being traditional, modern, or both, respectively.

Results: Overall, 11426 individuals were included in the study: 10960 uninfected and 466 infected (301 symptomatic and 165 asymptomatic). Six percent resided in low-quality houses, 26% in medium-quality houses, and 68% in high-quality houses. In adjusted models, low- and medium-quality construction was associated with increased risk of malaria compared with high-quality construction (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.11 and 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.26-3.53 for low vs high; AOR, 1.56 and 95% CI, 1.15-2.11 for medium vs high). The relationship was independent of vector control, which also conferred a protective effect (AOR, 0.67; 95% CI, .50-.90) for sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or a sprayed structure compared with neither.

Conclusions: Our study adds to the limited literature on housing quality and malaria risk from low transmission settings. Housing improvements may offer an attractive and sustainable additional strategy to support countries in malaria elimination.

Keywords: Swaziland.; housing; low transmission; malaria elimination; vector control.