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Journal of Tropical Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 819563, 10 pages
Review Article

Factors Contributing to Urban Malaria Transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review

1Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, London W2 1PG, UK
2MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis & Modelling, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, London W2 1PG, UK

Received 29 June 2012; Revised 17 September 2012; Accepted 17 September 2012

Academic Editor: Maria Aparecida Shikanai Yasuda

Copyright © 2012 Prathiba M. De Silva and John M. Marshall. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Sub-Saharan Africa suffers by far the greatest malaria burden worldwide and is currently undergoing a profound demographic change, with a growing proportion of its population moving to urban areas. Urbanisation is generally expected to reduce malaria transmission; however the disease still persists in African cities, in some cases at higher levels than in nearby rural areas. Objective. This paper aims to collate and analyse risk factors for urban malaria transmission throughout sub-Saharan Africa and to discuss their implications for control. Methods. A systematic search on malaria and urbanisation was carried out focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. Particular interest was taken in vector breeding sites in urban and periurban areas. Results. A variety of urban vector breeding sites were catalogued, the majority of which were artificial, including urban agriculture, tyre tracks, and ditches. Natural breeding sites varied according to location. Low socioeconomic status was a significant risk factor for malaria, often present in peri-urban areas. A worrying trend was seen in the adaptation of malaria vector species to the urban environment. Urban malaria is highly focused and control programs should reflect this. Conclusion. As urbanisation continues and vector species adapt, continued monitoring and control of urban malaria in sub-Saharan Africa is essential.