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Can malaria vector control accelerate the interruption of lymphatic filariasis transmission in Africa; capturing a window of opportunity?

Louise A Kelly-Hope*, David H Molyneux and Moses J Bockarie

Author Affiliations

Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA, UK

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Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:39  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-39

Published: 22 February 2013



The Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) was launched in 2000, and nearly all endemic countries in the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean and Asia-Pacific regions have now initiated the WHO recommended mass drug administration (MDA) campaign to interrupt transmission of the parasite. However, nearly 50% of the LF endemic countries in Africa are yet to implement the GPELF MDA strategy, which does not include vector control. Nevertheless, the recent scale up in insecticide treated /long lasting nets (ITNs/LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) for malaria control in Africa may significantly impact LF transmission because the parasite is transmitted mainly by Anopheles mosquitoes. This study examined the magnitude, geographical extent and potential impact of vector control in the 17 African countries that are yet to or have only recently started MDA.


National data on mosquito bed nets, ITNs/LLINs and IRS were obtained from published literature, national reports, surveys and datasets from public sources such as Demographic Health Surveys, Malaria Indicator Surveys, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, Malaria Report, Roll Back Malaria and President’s Malaria Initiative websites. The type, number and distribution of interventions were summarised and mapped at sub-national level. and compared with known or potential LF distributions, and those which may be co-endemic with Loa loa and MDA is contraindicated.


Analyses found that vector control activities had increased significantly since 2005, with a three-fold increase in ITN ownership and IRS coverage. However, coverage varied dramatically across the 17 countries; some regions reported >70% ITNs ownership and regular IRS activity, while others had no coverage in remote rural populations where the risk of LF was potentially high and co-endemic with high risk L.loa.


Despite many African countries being slow to initiate MDA for LF, the continued commitment and global financial support for NTDs, and the concurrent expansion of vector control activities for malaria, is promising. It is not beyond the capacity of GPELF to reach its target of global LF elimination by 2020, but monitoring and evaluating the impact of these activities over the next decade will be critical to its success.

Lymphatic filariasis; Mass drug administration; Vector control; Long-lasting insecticidal nets; LLINs; Indoor residual spraying; IRS; Anopheles; Mosquitoes; Malaria