BACKGROUND: Ever since it was discovered that zoophilic vectors can transmit malaria, zooprophylaxis has been used to prevent the disease. However, zoopotentiation has also been observed. Thus, the presence of livestock has been widely accepted as an important variable for the prevalence and risk of malaria, but the effectiveness of zooprophylaxis remained subject to debate. This study aims to critically analyse the effects of the presence of livestock on malaria prevalence using a large dataset from Indonesia.
METHODS: This study is based on data from the Indonesia Basic Health Research ("Riskesdas") cross-sectional survey of 2007 organized by the National Institute of Health Research and Development of Indonesia's Ministry of Health. The subset of data used in the present study included 259,885 research participants who reside in the rural areas of 176 regencies throughout the 15 provinces of Indonesia where the prevalence of malaria is higher than the national average. The variable "existence of livestock" and other independent demographic, social and behavioural variables were tested as potential determinants for malaria prevalence by multivariate logistic regressions.
RESULTS: Raising medium-sized animals in the house was a significant predictor of malaria prevalence (OR = 2.980; 95% CI 2.348-3.782, P < 0.001) when compared to keeping such animals outside of the house (OR = 1.713; 95% CI 1.515-1.937, P < 0.001). After adjusting for gender, age, access to community health facility, sewage canal condition, use of mosquito nets and insecticide-treated bed nets, the participants who raised medium-sized animals inside their homes were 2.8 times more likely to contract malaria than respondents who did not (adjusted odds ratio = 2.809; 95% CI 2.207-3.575; P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study highlight the importance of livestock for malaria transmission, suggesting that keeping livestock in the house contributes to malaria risk rather than prophylaxis in Indonesia. Livestock-based interventions should therefore play a significant role in the implementation of malaria control programmes, and focus on households with a high proportion of medium-sized animals in rural areas. The implementation of a "One Health" strategy to eliminate malaria in Indonesia by 2030 is strongly recommended.