||Background: In Benin, malaria vector control mostly relies on long-lasting, insecticidal-treated bed nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) operations. From 2011 to 2016, an IRS programme has been implemented in Atacora region. However, in 2017 the programme was withdrawn from two other regions in the northern part of the country, with hopes that gains would be relatively sustained because of the seasonality of malaria transmission. What would be the vulnerability of populations to malaria after the withdrawal of IRS?
Methods: Monthly mosquito collections were performed through human landing captures (HLCs) for 24 months (from January to December 2016 during the last IRS campaign, and from January to December 2018, 2 years after the withdrawal of IRS). Vector mosquitoes biting density was sampled by HLC and was tested for presence of Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites. The carcass of these mosquitoes (abdomens, wing, legs) were subjected to molecular species identification using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays.
Results: It is noticed a drastic increase (~ 3 times higher) of vector abundance after the withdrawal of IRS. Mosquito biting rates in the 3 survey districts increased significantly after IRS was withdrawn. In 2018, after IRS cessation a significant increase of entomological inoculation rate was recorded, where each inhabitant received an average of 94.9 infected bites/year to 129.21 infected bites/year against an average of 17.15 infected bites/year to 24.82 infected bites/year in 2016.
Conclusion: It is obvious that the withdrawal of IRS confers a vulnerability of the population with regard to the malaria transmission. Robust monitoring is needed to better understand when and where IRS should be most adequate, or can be safely withdrawn. In case of withdrawal, adapted accompanying measures should be pro- posed according to the context not only to maintain the gains capitalized with IRS, but also to avoid any rebound of transmission.