The associations between malaria, interventions, and the environment: a systematic review and meta-analysis
BACKGROUND: Malaria transmission is driven by multiple factors, including complex and multifaceted connections between malaria transmission, socioeconomic conditions, climate and interventions. Forecasting models should account for all significant drivers of malaria incidence although it is first necessary to understand the relationship between malaria burden and the various determinants of risk to inform the development of forecasting models. In this study, the associations between malaria risk, environmental factors, and interventions were evaluated through a systematic review. METHODS: Five electronic databases (CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Global Health, MEDLINE and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses) were searched for studies that included both the effects of the environment and interventions on malaria within the same statistical model. Studies were restricted to quantitative analyses and health outcomes of malaria mortality or morbidity, outbreaks, or transmission suitability. Meta-analyses were conducted on a subset of results using random-effects models. RESULTS: Eleven studies of 2248 potentially relevant articles that met inclusion criteria were identified for the systematic review and two meta-analyses based upon five results each were performed. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index was not found to be statistically significant associated with malaria with a pooled OR of 1.10 (95% CI 0.07, 1.71). Bed net ownership was statistically associated with decreasing risk of malaria, when controlling for the effects of environment with a pooled OR of 0.75 (95% CI 0.60, 0.95). In general, environmental effects on malaria, while controlling for the effect of interventions, were variable and showed no particular pattern. Bed nets ownership, use and distribution, have a significant protective effect while controlling for environmental variables. CONCLUSIONS: There are a limited number of studies which have simultaneously evaluated both environmental and interventional effects on malaria risk. Poor statistical reporting and a lack of common metrics were important challenges for this review, which must be addressed to ensure reproducibility and quality research. A comprehensive or inclusive approach to identifying malaria determinants using standardized indicators would allow for a better understanding of its epidemiology, which is crucial to improve future malaria risk estimations.