Supplementary vector control methods

Last update: 11 December 2015

Vector control is an essential component of malaria prevention. When coverage is sufficiently high, vector-control interventions can successfully reduce or interrupt malaria transmission. The two core, broadly applicable measures that protect humans from the bite of malaria-carrying mosquitoes are long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS). In specific settings and under special circumstances, the core vector-control interventions of LLINs and IRS can be supplemented by other methods, such as:

  • larval source management (including habitat modification, habitat manipulation, larviciding and biological control); and
  • personal protection measures.

Larval source management

Larval habitats vary markedly among Anopheles mosquito species. Thus, control measures directed towards larvae are highly specific for a particular location and ecology. Larviciding is therefore only recommended for areas where the habitats of malaria mosquito larvae are few, fixed and findable, and are easy to identify, map and treat. Larval source management can be particularly useful in urban and periurban areas in sub-Saharan Africa, or in rural areas in Asia or the Americas. However, it is unlikely to be effective in rural Africa, where malaria larval habitats are numerous, shifting and widely dispersed.

Reports from national malaria control programmes in 2014 indicate that 48 malaria-endemic countries worldwide use larval control in certain specific foci of malaria transmission. Thirty-two countries reported use of vector habitat modification or manipulation, and 45 countries reported use of biological control or chemical larviciding. Currently, 12 compounds and formulations are recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (WHOPES) for larval control.

Personal protection measures

One of the core measures for malaria control, LLINs, provides personal as well as community protection. IRS provides community protection only. Where necessary, LLINs and IRS can be supplemented with other personal protection measures, to reduce contact between mosquitoes and humans. Supplementary measures may include those that have yet to be formally recommended by WHO. Examples are window screens; insecticide-treated blankets, hammocks or window curtains; repellents; and protective clothing.

The Vector Control Advisory Group (VCAG) was established by WHO to review and assess the public health value of new tools, approaches and technologies, and to make recommendations on their use for vector control within the context of integrated vector management in multi-disease settings.

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