Forest-going populations are key to malaria transmission in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and are therefore targeted for elimination efforts. Estimating the size of this population is essential for programs to assess, track and achieve their elimination goals. Leveraging data from three cross-sectional household surveys and one survey among forest-goers, the size of this high-risk population in a southern province of Lao PDR between December 2017 and November 2018 was estimated by two methods: population-based household surveys and capture-recapture. During the first month of the dry season, the first month of the rainy season, and the last month of the rainy season, respectively, 16.2% [14.7; 17.7], 9.3% [7.2; 11.3], and 5.3% [4.4; 6.1] of the adult population were estimated to have engaged in forest-going activities. The capture-recapture method estimated a total population size of 18,426 [16,529; 20,669] forest-goers, meaning 61.0% [54.2; 67.9] of the adult population had engaged in forest-going activities over the 12-month study period. This study demonstrates two methods for population size estimation to inform malaria research and programming. The seasonality and turnover within this forest-going population provide unique opportunities and challenges for control programs across the GMS as they work towards malaria elimination.
© 2021. The Author(s).