Additional vector control tools (VCTs) are needed to supplement insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) to achieve malaria elimination in many settings. To identify options for expanding the malaria vector control toolbox, we conducted a systematic review of the availability and quality of the evidence for 21 malaria VCTs, excluding ITNs and IRS.
Six electronic databases and grey literature sources were searched from January 1, 1980 to September 28, 2015 to identify systematic reviews, Phase I-IV studies, and observational studies that measured the effect of malaria VCTs on epidemiological or entomological outcomes across any age groups in all malaria-endemic settings. Eligible studies were summarized qualitatively, with quality and risk of bias assessments undertaken where possible. Of 17,912 studies screened, 155 were eligible for inclusion and were included in a qualitative synthesis.
Across the 21 VCTs, we found considerable heterogeneity in the volume and quality of evidence, with 7 VCTs currently supported by at least one Phase III community-level evaluation measuring parasitologically confirmed malaria incidence or infection prevalence (insecticide-treated clothing and blankets, insecticide-treated hammocks, insecticide-treated livestock, larval source management (LSM), mosquito-proofed housing, spatial repellents, and topical repellents). The remaining VCTs were supported by one or more Phase II (n=13) or Phase I evaluation (n=1). Overall the quality of the evidence base remains greatest for LSM and topical repellents, relative to the other VCTs evaluated, although existing evidence indicates that topical repellents are unlikely to provide effective population-level protection against malaria.
Despite substantial gaps in the supporting evidence, several VCTs may be promising supplements to ITNs and IRS in appropriate settings. Strengthening operational capacity and research to implement underutilized VCTs, such as LSM and mosquito-proofed housing, using an adaptive, learning-by-doing approach, while expanding the evidence base for promising supplementary VCTs that are locally tailored, should be considered central to global malaria elimination efforts.