Malaria is rated as the leading cause of childhood mortality in Burundi. It is responsible for 48.0% of deaths in children under 5 in health facilities. According to the National Malaria Control Program, malaria accounts for 43.6% of all outpatient visits and 64.2% of outpatient visits among children under 5.
However, progress is being made. Burundi has seen a reduction in malaria cases, with cases dropping by 22% between 2010 and 2011, and by 20% between 2011 and 2012, mainly attributed to an increase in use of Long Lasting Insecticide-treated Nets (LLINs) and access to treatment, according to the National Malaria Control Program. However, the country still has a high malaria prevalence, averaging 17%, and an incidence averaging 300/1000 habitants in 2012.
In Burundi, malaria is seasonal with peak transmission occurring between April-May and November-December. Eighty percent of malaria cases occur near marshlands where rice and other crops are cultivated. In these areas irrigation systems and brick-making activities create persistent vector breeding sites.
The PMI AIRS Project provides entomological monitoring support to build the capacity of local staff to collect information on mosquito behavior and inform program decisions. The Project conducts routine entomological activities in eight sentinel sites (Cankuzo, Vumbi, Gihofi, Kiremba, Mabayi, Mpanda, Nyanza-Lac and Matana).
AIRS Burundi collects data from the entomological sites to provide evidence for decision making in vector control interventions in the country. In addition, project staff are working with the entomological technicians to create a database of all the information collected in the field. This information will help the NMCP better understand the vector density, species composition, behavior and seasonal variations in the sentinel sites.
Through the PMI AIRS Project, the Gihanga insectary, which was once barely functional and out of commission, was completely restored for operational use.
There are no current data on the distribution of malaria vectors in Burundi. Historically, Anopheles gambiae s.l. and Anopheles funestus have been the predominant vectors. However, their species composition and behavior in Burundi remains unknown.
In 2011, USAID strengthened Burundi’s entomological capacity by building an insectary at the health post in Gihanga and training technicians on entomological monitoring from the National Malaria Control Program. In October 2012, USAID continued technical assistance to the Government of Burundi through the Abt Associates-implemented AIRS project. To maximize the impact of malaria prevention programs and prevent child deaths, AIRS is analyzing mosquito behavior and trends in mosquito density over several months. This vital data will be shared with program managers and other stakeholders to inform malaria interventions.
AIRS works in concert with staff from the government’s National Malaria Control Program, training them to carry out entomological monitoring activities and making improvements to the insectary. Using the existing laboratory resources for training, local entomologists are developing skills to complete entomological monitoring independently, increasing the sustainability of malaria prevention programs and laying the ground work for data-driven malaria prevention programs.