Long-lasting insecticidal nets and the quest for malaria eradication: a mathematical modeling approach

Iboi Enahoro, Steffen Eikenberry, Abba B. Gumel, Silvie Huijben, Krijn Paaijmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Recent dramatic declines in global malaria burden and mortality can be largely attributed to the large-scale deployment of insecticidal-based measures, namely long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying. However, the sustainability of these gains, and the feasibility of global malaria eradication by 2040, may be affected by increasing insecticide resistance among the Anopheles malaria vector. We employ a new differential-equations based mathematical model, which incorporates the full, weather-dependent mosquito lifecycle, to assess the population-level impact of the large-scale use of LLINs, under different levels of Anopheles pyrethroid insecticide resistance, on malaria transmission dynamics and control in a community. Moreover, we describe the bednet-mosquito interaction using parameters that can be estimated from the large experimental hut trial literature under varying levels of effective pyrethroid resistance. An expression for the basic reproduction number, R, as a function of population-level bednet coverage, is derived. It is shown, owing to the phenomenon of backward bifurcation, that R must be pushed appreciably below 1 to eliminate malaria in endemic areas, potentially complicating eradication efforts. Numerical simulations of the model suggest that, when the baseline R is high (corresponding roughly to holoendemic malaria), very high bednet coverage with highly effective nets is necessary to approach conditions for malaria elimination. Further, while >50% bednet coverage is likely sufficient to strongly control or eliminate malaria from areas with a mesoendemic malaria baseline, pyrethroid resistance could undermine control and elimination efforts even in this setting. Our simulations show that pyrethroid resistance in mosquitoes appreciably reduces bednet effectiveness across parameter space. This modeling study also suggests that increasing pre-bloodmeal deterrence of mosquitoes (deterring them from entry into protected homes) actually hampers elimination efforts, as it may focus mosquito biting onto a smaller unprotected host subpopulation. Finally, we observe that temperature affects malaria potential independently of bednet coverage and pyrethroid-resistance levels, with both climate change and pyrethroid resistance posing future threats to malaria control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-158
Number of pages46
JournalJournal Of Mathematical Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Basic reproduction number
  • LLINs
  • Pyrethroid
  • Temperature effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics


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