Unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and control of vectors of malaria and other vector-borne diseases

Malar J. 2023 Jan 20;22(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s12936-022-04414-0.


The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has expanded rapidly in ecological conservation and agriculture, with a growing literature describing their potential applications in global health efforts including vector control. Vector-borne diseases carry severe public health and economic impacts to over half of the global population yet conventional approaches to the surveillance and treatment of vector habitats is typically laborious and slow. The high mobility of UAVs allows them to reach remote areas that might otherwise be inaccessible to ground-based teams. Given the rapidly expanding examples of these tools in vector control programmes, there is a need to establish the current knowledge base of applications for UAVs in this context and assess the strengths and challenges compared to conventional methodologies. This review aims to summarize the currently available knowledge on the capabilities of UAVs in both malaria control and in vector control more broadly in cases where the technology could be readily adapted to malaria vectors. This review will cover the current use of UAVs in vector habitat surveillance and deployment of control payloads, in comparison with their existing conventional approaches. Finally, this review will highlight the logistical and regulatory challenges in scaling up the use of UAVs in malaria control programmes and highlight potential future developments.

Keywords: Drones; Mosquito control; Public health; Surveillance; Unmanned aerial system (UAS); Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV); Vector-borne diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Ecosystem
  • Humans
  • Malaria* / prevention & control
  • Technology
  • Unmanned Aerial Devices*