Prevalence of asymptomatic malaria and bed net ownership and use in Bhutan, 2013: a country earmarked for malaria elimination

Kinley Wangdi, Michelle L Gatton, Gerard C Kelly, Archie C A Clements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: With dwindling malaria cases in Bhutan in recent years, the government of Bhutan has made plans for malaria elimination by 2016. This study aimed to determine coverage, use and ownership of LLINs, as well as the prevalence of asymptomatic malaria at a single time-point, in four sub-districts of Bhutan.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was carried out in August 2013. Structured questionnaires were administered to a single respondent in each household (HH) in four sub-districts. Four members from 25 HH, randomly selected from each sub-district, were tested using rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) for asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infection. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to identify factors associated with LLIN use and maintenance.

RESULTS: All blood samples from 380 participants tested negative for Plasmodium infections. A total of 1,223 HH (92.5% of total HH) were surveyed for LLIN coverage and use. Coverage of LLINs was 99.0% (1,203/1,223 HH). Factors associated with decreased odds of sleeping under a LLIN included: washing LLINs <six months and >nine months compared to washing LLINs every six months; HH in the least poor compared to the most poor socio-economic quintile; a HH income of Nu 5,001-10,000 (US$1 = Nu 59.55), and Nu >10,000, compared to HH with income of <Nu 1,500; HH located one to three hours walking distance to a health centre compared to being located closer to a health centre; a reported lack of knowledge as to what to do in event of LLINs being torn; and keeping LLINs in a box compared to keeping them hanging in the place of use. Factors associated with use of LLINs for purposes other than the intended use included: income group Nu 1,501-3,000 and HH located one to three hours walking distance from a health centre.

CONCLUSIONS: There was high coverage of LLINs in the study area with regular use of LLINs throughout the year. LLIN use for purposes other than malaria prevention was low. With high coverage and regular use of LLINs, and a zero prevalence of malaria infection found in historically high-risk communities during the peak malaria season, it appears Bhutan is on course to achieve malaria elimination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalMalaria Journal
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


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