Unit | Health Interventions

The mission of the Health Interventions Unit revolves around the development and rigorous field testing of health interventions, with a primary emphasis on combatting malaria. Operating across a diverse spectrum of activities, we maintain a dual portfolio that encompasses research studies and service projects. For this purpose, we collaborate extensively with other units and departments at Swiss TPH. 

The geographical reach of our activities extends across several countries in Africa South of the Sahara, including Tanzania, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and others. Additionally, we actively engage in initiatives in Papua New Guinea and Mesoamerica. 

Our research efforts focus on integrating new interventions into existing health systems in order to achieve positive health impact. We conduct trials on innovative vaccine candidates, large-scale observational studies on rectal artesunate for severe malaria, or mixed-methods research to develop and test new vector control tools in real-world settings. Our analytical work provides guidance to implementing agencies and donors, which we underpin with mathematical modelling approaches. We are dedicated to enhancing disease surveillance, and the monitoring and evaluation of national programmes, which are critical aspects of ensuring the effective implementation of interventions. 

Integral to our approach, we actively strengthen capacity in malaria-endemic countries through long-term institutional partnerships and formal training courses. Our projects contribute to the broader goal of building resilient health systems and reducing the burden of malaria in vulnerable populations. 

Searching for mosquito larvae in Tanga Region. Photo: Christian Lengeler

TEMT: Towards Eliminating Malaria in Tanzania

Since 2002, Swiss TPH has been supporting the Tanzanian National Malaria Control Programme with research, technical advice and direct implementation support, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) A strong feature of this pioneering partnership has been the synergies created between our research and the translation of findings into programme activities. Examples include the large-scale implementation of Insecticide Treated Nets, and the malaria risk stratification that informs a locally tailored control strategy. Read more about Malaria Interventions

Study nurse in a cottage hospital in Nigeria. (Photo: Manuel Hetzel)

Evidence-Based Decisions on Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention Extension in Benin

Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) has been implemented in Benin since 2019 and targeted more than 400,000 children under 5 in 2021 in the northern departments of Alibori and Atacora. Benin considered extending SMC either demographically to children from 5 to 10, or geographically to children under 5 in other eligible zones. Context-specific evidence was needed to decide between both extensions and in which zones SMC should be implemented first. The two extensions of SMC were simulated using OpenMalaria. Read more about Analytics and Intervention Modelling

Malaria surveillance officer in Zanzibar (Photo: Manuel Hetzel)

Malaria Reactive Case Detection in Zanzibar

Efforts to eliminate malaria in the islands of Zanzibar require a surveillance system that allows detecting and classifying malaria infections in the community, including asymptomatic cases. Jointly with collaborators in Tanzania and the US, we investigated the effectiveness of the current surveillance system with a combination of field surveys, mathematical modelling, and population genomics. We work closely with the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Programme to help translating findings into programmatic practice. Read more about Intervention Effectiveness and Impact

Packs of rectal artesunate

CARAMAL: Rectal Artesunate for Severe Malaria

Severe childhood malaria requires prompt and effective treatment. The WHO recommends rectal artesunate (RAS) as pre-referral treatment for young children who live far from clinics in which injectable treatment is available. We worked with partners in DR Congo, Nigeria and Uganda to establish the effect of introducing rectal artesunate in routine clinical practice. The observational study involved over 13’000 severely ill children and identified key health systems constraints to an effective use of RAS in remote rural areas. Read more about CARAMAL

MaModAfrica PhD Training School

MaModAfrica PhD Training School

MaModAfrica PhD Training School equips PhD students with an understanding of the principles of malaria modeling. The training school is expected to nurture collaborative networks among students and craft the path forward in the landscape of malaria modeling using the diverse database and platforms built by the countries NMCP. Swiss TPH is part of the consortium led by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Rwanda developing the curricula in modeling, offering courses and supervision.  Read more about the MaMod PhD Training School

Survey team in Papua New Guinea

Malaria Indicator Survey in Papua New Guinea

Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS) provide essential data on malaria infection prevalence and coverage with malaria interventions in the community. We have supported the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research in the implementation and analysis of several national MIS. The latest MIS was conducted in 2022-2023; data from over 14’000 individuals was collected electronically and managed locally. Our expertise in malaria surveys is applicable in a wide range of settings and research projects. Read more about MIS

Bakari C et al. Trends of Plasmodium falciparum molecular markers associated with resistance to artemisinins and reduced susceptibility to lumefantrine in Mainland Tanzania from 2016 to 2021. Malar J. 2024;23:71. DOI: 10.1186/s12936-024-04896-0

Champagne C, Gerhards M, Lana J.T, Le Menach A, Pothin E. Quantifying the impact of interventions against Plasmodium vivax: a model for country-specific use. Epidemics. 2024;46:100747. DOI: 10.1016/j.epidem.2024.100747

David A et al. Accessibility of malaria commodities in Geita District Council, mainland Tanzania: the experiences from healthcare providers and clients. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2024;17(1):2308611. DOI: 10.1080/20523211.2024.2308611

Hirt J et al. Use of pragmatic randomized trials in multiple sclerosis: a systematic overview. Mult Scler. 2024;30(4-5):463-478. DOI: 10.1177/13524585231221938

Holzschuh A et al. Using a mobile nanopore sequencing lab for end-to-end genomic surveillance of Plasmodium falciparum: a feasibility study. PLOS Glob Public Health. 2024;4(2):e0002743. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0002743

Kaseje N, Oruenjo K, Kaseje D, Ranganathan M, Tanner M, Haines A. The effectiveness of community health worker training, equipping, and deployment in reducing COVID-19 infections and deaths in rural Western Kenya: a comparison of two counties. PLOS Glob Public Health. 2024;4(3):e0003036. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0003036