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The needs and opportunities for housing improvement for malaria control in southern Tanzania

Bofu, Ramadhani M., Santos, Ellen M., Msugupakulya, Betwel, Kahamba, Najat F., Swilla, Joseph D., Njalambaha, Rukiyah, Kelly, Ann H., Lezaun, Javier, Christofides, Nicola, Okumu, Fredros O. and Finda, Marceline F. (2023) 'The needs and opportunities for housing improvement for malaria control in southern Tanzania'. Malaria Journal, Vol 22, Issue 1, e69.

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Background: Malaria disproportionately affects low-income households in rural communities where poor housing is common. Despite evidence that well-constructed and mosquito-proofed houses can reduce malaria risk, housing improvement is rarely included in malaria control toolboxes. This study assessed the need, magnitude, and opportunities for housing improvement to control malaria in rural Tanzania.
Methods: A mixed-methods study was conducted in 19 villages across four district councils in southern Tanzania. A structured survey was administered to 1292 community members to assess need, perceptions, and opportunities for housing improvement for malaria control. Direct observations of 802 houses and surrounding environments were done to identify the actual needs and opportunities, and to validate the survey findings. A market survey was done to assess availability and cost of resources and services necessary for mosquito-proofing homes. Focus group discussions were conducted with key stakeholders to explore insights on the potential and challenges of housing improvement as a malaria intervention.
Results: Compared to other methods for malaria control, housing improvement was among the best understood and most preferred by community members. Of the 735 survey respondents who needed housing improvements, a majority needed window screening (91.1%), repairs of holes in walls (79.4%), door covers (41.6%), closing of eave spaces (31.2%) and better roofs (19.0%). Community members invested significant efforts to improve their own homes against malaria and other dangers, but these efforts were often slow and delayed due to high costs and limited household incomes. Study participants suggested several mechanisms of support to improve their homes, including government loans and subsidies.
Conclusion: Addressing the need for housing improvement is a critical component of malaria control efforts in southern Tanzania. In this study, a majority of the community members surveyed needed modest modifications and had plans to work on those modifications. Without additional support, their efforts were however generally slow; households would take years to sufficiently mosquito-proof their houses. It is, therefore, crucial to bring together the key players across sectors to reduce barriers in malaria-proofing housing in endemic settings. These may include government subsidies or partnerships with businesses to make housing improvement more accessible and affordable to residents.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
WA Public Health > Housing. Buildings. Public Facilities > WA 795 Housing
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 750 Malaria
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Vector Biology Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2023 11:24
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2023 11:29


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