The epidemiology of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax in East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, pre- and post-implementation of national malaria control efforts

Kattenberg, Johanna H., Gumal, Dulcie L., Ome-Kaius, Maria, Kiniboro, Benson, Philip, Matthew, Jally, Shadrach, Kasian, Bernadine, Sambale, Naomi, Siba, Peter M., Karl, Stephan, Barry, Alyssa E., Felger, Ingrid, Kazura, James W., Mueller, Ivo, Robinson, Leanne J., and UNSPECIFIED (2020) The epidemiology of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax in East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, pre- and post-implementation of national malaria control efforts. Malaria Journal, 19. 198.

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In the past decade, national malaria control efforts in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have received renewed support, facilitating nationwide distribution of free long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), as well as improvements in access to parasite-confirmed diagnosis and effective artemisinin-combination therapy in 2011–2012.


To study the effects of these intensified control efforts on the epidemiology and transmission of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections and investigate risk factors at the individual and household level, two cross-sectional surveys were conducted in the East Sepik Province of PNG; one in 2005, before the scale-up of national campaigns and one in late 2012-early 2013, after 2 rounds of LLIN distribution (2008 and 2011–2012). Differences between studies were investigated using Chi square (χ2), Fischer’s exact tests and Student’s t-test. Multivariable logistic regression models were built to investigate factors associated with infection at the individual and household level.


The prevalence of P. falciparum and P. vivax in surveyed communities decreased from 55% (2005) to 9% (2013) and 36% to 6%, respectively. The mean multiplicity of infection (MOI) decreased from 1.8 to 1.6 for P. falciparum (p = 0.08) and from 2.2 to 1.4 for P. vivax (p < 0.001). Alongside these reductions, a shift towards a more uniform distribution of infections and illness across age groups was observed but there was greater heterogeneity across the study area and within the study villages. Microscopy positive infections and clinical cases in the household were associated with high rate infection households (> 50% of household members with Plasmodium infection).


After the scale-up of malaria control interventions in PNG between 2008 and 2012, there was a substantial reduction in P. falciparum and P. vivax infection rates in the studies villages in East Sepik Province. Understanding the extent of local heterogeneity in malaria transmission and the driving factors is critical to identify and implement targeted control strategies to ensure the ongoing success of malaria control in PNG and inform the development of tools required to achieve elimination. In household-based interventions, diagnostics with a sensitivity similar to (expert) microscopy could be used to identify and target high rate households.

Item ID: 67095
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1475-2875
Keywords: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Epidemiology, Malaria control, Spatial heterogeneity, LLINs
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Funders: NIH NIAID International Centres of Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: ICEMR Southwest Pacific Program U19AI089686, BMGF TransEPI grant, ICEMR Asia Pacific U19 AI129392‑01, NHMRC GNT1092789, NHMRC GNT11155075, NHMRC GNT1016443, NHMRC GNT1161627
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2021 03:03
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420319 Primary health care @ 50%
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3202 Clinical sciences > 320211 Infectious diseases @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200404 Disease distribution and transmission (incl. surveillance and response) @ 100%
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