Review finds operational research opportunities to control and eliminate malaria

TDR news item
29 January 2015

A literature review of operational research on malaria control and elimination has found that few studies have been conducted relative to other areas of malaria research, and of those, hardly any are published on research done in countries in the pre-elimination or elimination.

Operational research (OR) is used to identify bottlenecks in service delivery and improve the accessibility and quality of products and services. It has the potential to improve the outputs and outcomes of malaria programmes by assessing the feasibility of new interventions in specific settings and identifying obstacles to malaria control in a particular country. But the authors suggest that more attention could be given to what or where this type of research is being conducted and how it could help endemic countries progress from malaria control to elimination.

Kenyan child
WHO/TDR/Andy Craggs

The study published in the Malaria Journal found that a majority of the OR projects published between 2008 and 2013 focused on countries with high burden, especially in Africa south of the Sahara. Only a small number of projects were conducted in low transmission settings or countries approaching malaria elimination, and only a few focused on topics and activities relevant to malaria elimination.

The authors also found that OR is usually led by local and external research institutions and very little by malaria control programmes. They suggest that strengthening the capacity of national malaria control programmes to conduct operational research and publish its findings, and improving linkages between them and research institutes, could speed up progress towards malaria elimination.

The article was authored by staff of the World Health Organization, including TDR’s Andy Ramsay and staff from the Global Malaria Programme (Aafje Rietveld and Richard Cibulskis) and partners from China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Shui-sen Zhou – the first author, Shao-sen Zhang and Xiao-nong Zhou) and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain (Mar Velarde-Rodriguez).

For more information, contact Andy Ramsay (