Unlocking the human factor to increase effectiveness and sustainability of malaria vector control

April Monroe*, Sarah Moore, Bolanle Olapeju, Alice Payne Merritt, Fredros Okumu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Progress in the fight against malaria has stalled in recent years, highlighting the importance of new interventions and tailored approaches. A critical factor that must be considered across contexts and interventions is human behaviour. Main text: Factors such as acceptance of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS), ability and willingness to consistently use and appropriately care for ITNs and refraining from post-spray wall modifications can all impact the success of core vector control interventions. Understanding factors that can drive or inhibit these behaviours can contribute to improved social and behaviour change strategies and in turn, improved outcomes. Likewise, patterns of nighttime activities can reveal specific gaps in protection that cannot be filled by core interventions and inform development and deployment of complementary tools that meet people’s needs and preferences. There is an opportunity to increase use of approaches such as human-centred design to engage affected communities more actively in identifying and developing sustainable solutions that meet their needs and lifestyles. Integration of social and behavioural research with entomological and epidemiological evaluations will provide a more complete picture of malaria transmission dynamics and inform improved targeting of context-appropriate interventions. Finally, for gains to be maintained, interventions must be rooted within systems that support long-term success. This includes a movement toward more sustainable vector control solutions, increased decision-making and ownership of research, implementation, and strategy development at the country level, and inclusive approaches that ensure all men, women, boys, and girls are engaged as part of the solution. Conclusions: No matter how efficacious, a tool will remain ineffective if communities do not engage with it or use it regularly. Entering the next decade in the fight against malaria there is a critical opportunity to elevate the role of social and behaviour change to increase the impact and sustainability of malaria control and elimination efforts. This includes removing social and structural barriers to use of existing tools at all levels, human-centred and inclusive design and implementation of new tools, and movement toward long-term solutions led by affected communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number404
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


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