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Mass treatment as a means to reducing P. falciparum malaria transmission was used during the first global malaria eradication campaign and is increasingly being considered for current control programmes. We used a previously developed mathematical transmission model to explore both the short and long-term impact of possible mass treatment strategies in different scenarios of endemic transmission. Mass treatment is predicted to provide a longer-term benefit in areas with lower malaria transmission, with reduced transmission levels for at least 2 years after mass treatment is ended in a scenario where the baseline slide-prevalence is 5%, compared to less than one year in a scenario with baseline slide-prevalence at 50%. However, repeated annual mass treatment at 80% coverage could achieve around 25% reduction in infectious bites in moderate-to-high transmission settings if sustained. Using vector control could reduce transmission to levels at which mass treatment has a longer-term impact. In a limited number of settings (which have isolated transmission in small populations of 1000-10,000 with low-to-medium levels of baseline transmission) we find that five closely spaced rounds of mass treatment combined with vector control could make at least temporary elimination a feasible goal. We also estimate the effects of using gametocytocidal treatments such as primaquine and of restricting treatment to parasite-positive individuals. In conclusion, mass treatment needs to be repeated or combined with other interventions for long-term impact in many endemic settings. The benefits of mass treatment need to be carefully weighed against the risks of increasing drug selection pressure.

Original publication




Journal article


PloS one

Publication Date





Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modeling, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.


Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Primaquine, Antimalarials, Insecticide-Treated Bednets