Evaluation of the operational challenges in implementing reactive screen-and-treat and implications of reactive case detection strategies for malaria elimination in a region of low transmission in southern Zambia

Kelly M. Searle, Harry Hamapumbu, Jailos Lubinda, Timothy M. Shields, Jessie Pinchoff, Tamaki Kobayashi, Jennifer C. Stevenson, Daniel J. Bridges, David A Larsen, Philip E. Thuma, William J. Moss

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Background: As malaria transmission declines in many regions of sub-Saharan Africa, interventions to identify the asymptomatic reservoir are being deployed with the goals of improving surveillance and interrupting transmission. Reactive case detection strategies, in which individuals with clinical malaria are followed up at their home and household residents and neighbours are screened and treated for malaria, are increasingly used as part of malaria elimination programmes. Methods: A reactive screen-and-treat programme was implemented by the National Malaria Control Centre in Southern Province, Zambia, in which individuals residing within 140 m of an index case were screened with a malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and treated if positive. The operational challenges during the early stages of implementing this reactive screen-and-treat programme in the catchment area of Macha Hospital in Southern Province, Zambia were assessed using rural health centre records, ground truth evaluation of community health worker performance, and data from serial cross-sectional surveys. The proportion of individuals infected with Plasmodium falciparum who were identified and treated was estimated by simulating reactive screen-and-treat and focal drug administration cascades. Results: Within the 1st year of implementation, community health workers followed up 32 % of eligible index cases. When index cases were followed up, 66 % of residents were at home in the index households and 58 % in neighbouring households. Forty-one neighbouring households of 26 index households were screened, but only 13 (32 %) were within the 140-m screening radius. The parasite prevalence by RDT was 22 % in index households and 5 % in neighbouring households. In a simulation model with complete follow-up, 22 % of the total infected population would be detected with reactive screen-and-treat but 57 % with reactive focal drug administration. Conclusions: With limited resources, coverage and diagnostic tools, reactive screen-and-treat will likely not be sufficient to achieve malaria elimination in this setting. However, high coverage with reactive focal drug administration could be efficient at decreasing the reservoir of infection and should be considered as an alternative strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number412
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 15 2016



  • Malaria elimination
  • Reactive case detection
  • Reactive test-and-treat
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Zambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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