Spatio-temporal heterogeneity of malaria morbidity in Ghana: Analysis of routine health facility data.

29 Jan 2018
Awine T, Malm K, Peprah NY, Silal SP


Malaria incidence is largely influenced by vector abundance. Among the many interconnected factors relating to malaria transmission, weather conditions such as rainfall and temperature are known to create suitable environmental conditions that sustain reproduction and propagation of anopheles mosquitoes and malaria parasites. In Ghana, climatic conditions vary across the country. Understanding the heterogeneity of malaria morbidity using data sourced from a recently setup data repository for routine health facility data could support planning.


Monthly aggregated confirmed uncomplicated malaria cases from the District Health Information Management System and average monthly rainfall and temperature records obtained from the Ghana Meteorological Agency from 2008 to 2016 were analysed. Univariate time series models were fitted to the malaria, rainfall and temperature data series. After pre-whitening the morbidity data, cross correlation analyses were performed. Subsequently, transfer function models were developed for the relationship between malaria morbidity and rainfall and temperature.


Malaria morbidity patterns vary across zones. In the Guinea savannah, morbidity peaks once in the year and twice in both the Transitional forest and Coastal savannah, following similar patterns of rainfall at the zonal level. While the effects of rainfall on malaria morbidity are delayed by a month in the Guinea savannah and Transitional Forest zones those of temperature are delayed by two months in the Transitional forest zone. In the Coastal savannah however, incidence of malaria is significantly associated with two months lead in rainfall and temperature.


Data captured on the District Health Information Management System has been used to demonstrate heterogeneity in the dynamics of malaria morbidity across the country. Timing of these variations could guide the deployment of interventions such as indoor residual spraying, Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention or vaccines to optimise effectiveness on zonal basis.