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How the Star Homes Project is Fighting Malaria in Tanzania

Malaria in Tanzania
Tanzania ranks among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest reported malaria cases and deaths. A survey by the Severe Malaria Observatory (SMO) revealed that 93% of Tanzania’s population lives in areas that are at high risk of malaria outbreaks. Transmission rates of malaria in Tanzania vary between regions and the country goes through seasons where it expects large spikes in the number of cases. The Star Homes Project is fighting malaria in Tanzania through improved housing.

Malaria in Tanzania

The U.N. describes malaria as a disease that “impoverishes families, households and national economies.” The economic impact of malaria is especially evident in Africa where an annual spend of $12 billion goes into addressing malaria outbreaks. Plasmodium falciparum, a unicellular protozoan parasite, is responsible for 96% of malaria cases in Tanzania. Vector mosquitoes transmit malaria to the human population by carrying the parasite.

Tanzania experiences three distinct malaria transmission seasons: stable perennial transmission, stable malaria transmission and unstable seasonal malaria transmission. Stable perennial transmission impacts 60% of the country, whereas stable malaria transmission and unstable seasonal malaria transmission impact 20% of the country at any given time in a year. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines perennial transmission as “transmission that occurs throughout the year with no great variation in intensity.”

Tanzania’s Malaria Burden

The WHO’s World Malaria Report 2021 identified that Tanzania accounted for 4.1% of global malaria-related deaths in 2020. The report also outlined that malaria in Tanzania accounted for 12.8% of reported cases in East and Southern Africa in 2020. The country adopted the Malaria National Strategic Plan (MNSP) in 2020 and the scheme is due to continue until 2025. The MNSP hopes to diagnose malaria more effectively and extend medical services to disadvantaged groups in the rural areas of Tanzania.

The Star Homes Project

The Star Homes Project began in 2018 under the management of the company Ingvartsen Artikekter. Ingvarsten oversees a cross-functional team of architects, physicians, entomologists and members of Tanzania’s local communities. The Star Home Project is fighting malaria in Tanzania by providing affordable and improved housing with effective ventilation and physical protective barriers that stop mosquitoes from entering Tanzanian homes and infecting inhabitants.

As of November 2022, the Star Homes Project built 110 homes across 55 villages in Mtwara, a rural settlement in Tanzania. The company’s homes feature a two-story structure and “permeable facades of sea green screening mesh” that blocks mosquito access. The design also includes self-closing doors that control ventilation and helps the house to maintain cool temperatures throughout the day. From 2022 to 2024, the Star Homes Project will complete trials that compare the health of children living in the Star Home to those living in their usual residences.

Estimates predict that sub-Saharan Africa will have a population of 1.1 billion people by 2050. Following these predictions, the Star Homes Project has identified the need to implement better health measures so that Tanzania’s current and future residents can safeguard themselves against highly transmittable diseases and respiratory infections.

Looking Ahead

Malaria continues to be a prevalent issue in Tanzania requiring extensive efforts to decrease the risk of infection during peak transmission seasons. However, the Star Homes Project offers an innovative housing solution that could assist Tanzania in reducing its high malaria rates and usher Tanzanians into a safer, disease-free era.

– Jennifer Preece
Photo: Flickr