This is the first study in Burkina Faso to estimate the spatial effects of malaria interventions on the geographical distribution of parasite risk. Different ITN coverage measures related to bed net use and ownership were calculated and the effects of ITN, IRS and case management coverage on the spatial pattern of malaria risk were studied after taking into account disease variation due to climatic and socio-economic factors. Georeferenced estimates of the parasite risk were obtained as well as the number of infected children. This study analysed the Burkina Faso MIS survey data of 2010 and employed Bayesian geostatistical models with spatially varying covariates using geostatistical variable selection to identify the most relevant bed net coverage indicators. The geostatistical variable approach identified a list of the most important climatic and environmental predictors. Weiss et al.  have proposed a list potential predictors that could be used to improve malaria modelling.
The most important ITN coverage measure was the proportion of children under 5 years old sleeping under bed net, with however a low posterior probability to be included in the model equal to 32.02 % followed by far by the number of ITN per under five (2.46 %) and the number of ITN per household member (0.20 %). This finding support previous results showing that contingent upon the setting and the prevailing conditions, ITN ownership and ITN use may show different ability in capturing ITN intervention effects on parasitaemia .
Overall, the effect of interventions in Burkina Faso was not significantly associated with change in malaria parasitaemia risk at country level. These results are in line with the findings of Giardina et al.  in a multisite study. The lack of statistically important ITN intervention effects may be explained by the fact that at country-level, a sizeable percentage (37.97 %) of children under the age of 5 years still do not sleep under ITN. However when analysed at sub-national level (health district level) some interventions show protective effects in certain districts. For instance ITN use, which appeared to have not an important effect at national level proved to be an effective intervention in four health districts namely Ouagadougou, Ziniare in the central region of the country, Ouahigouya in the North and Seeba in the Sahel region. Among factors that might affect ITN effectiveness feature the inadequate coverage and the uneven distribution of ITN and the usage among households and health districts .
Indeed, malaria is holoendemic in Burkina Faso and the transmission occurs throughout the year. In such settings, even significant reductions in the total exposure would not necessarily warrant substantial reductions in parasitaemia [22–25]. Furthermore, there is still low ITN utilization compliance (62.03 %) among children under the age of 5 years. This study found a protective effect of ITN usage in specific districts. This result supports findings reporting that the ITN intervention is expected to be more effective in low transmission settings with the highest ITN usage . Districts where ITN use was found to be protective are located in low to mild transmission settings where coverage of ITN use ranges from 42 to 90 % .
ACT showed a protective effect in 19 health districts. However it is worth noting that except Gorom-gorom in the Sahel region, Solenzo in the North West (Boucle du Mouhoun), secteur 15 and 22 in the West (Hauts-bassins) and Diebougou in the Southwest, the remaining districts where ACT showed a protective effect are located in the central region. A close inspection of the coverage levels shows that ACT tends to be effective in districts where a minimum level of coverage is achieved (above 5 %). This finding supports the hypothesis that the effectiveness of a given intervention is related to both its coverage as well as the transmission levels. Indeed, the ACT effect is presumably related to the very low coverage . High levels of transmission are also believed to limit the effect of ACT. Findings from a study conducted in Tanzania suggested that the percentage reductions in prevalence of infection and incidence of clinical episodes achieved by ACT were much higher in areas with low initial transmission . ITN interventions, however, aim at reducing the malaria transmission intensity by reducing the chances that an individual will be bitten by an infective Anopheles mosquito . However low compliance in ITN use may seriously reduce the potential impact of ITNs [27, 30]. Therefore, conjugated efforts to increase both the ACT coverage (in order to reduce the prevalence) and ITN use (to further reduce the transmission) are required to warrant a synergetic effect towards a better and effective control of the disease . Findings from a continental study that used data from 32 malaria-endemic African countries showed that ITN intervention was the most important and effective malaria intervention accounting for an estimated 68 % decline in malaria parasite rate in 2015 . The geostatistical model was able to identify districts with important protective ITN effects, although at country level the effect was not important.
IRS was not associated with malaria parasitaemia risk most probably owing to an extremely low percentage of houses sprayed within the last 12 months (0.92 %) prior to the survey.
Malaria is known to be a climate-driven disease and among the most important climatic factors features temperature. The model-based parasitaemia risk map depicts a strong spatial with lower parasitaemia risk estimated in the cities (urban settings) relative to rural settings. The results show a negative association between increased night temperature and malaria transmission. Laboratory experiments observed the shortest Anopheles gambiae s.s larval survival (<7 days) at 10–12 and 38–40 °C and the highest larval mortality occurring between 30 and 32 °C, with death (rather than adult emergence) representing over 70 % of the terminal events in mosquitoes originally from Lagos (Nigeria) . In Burkina Faso, the monthly mean temperature in the hottest and driest period (March–May) is constantly well above 31 °C. Land surface night temperature, therefore appears to be an important predictor of malaria transmission. Furthermore, the behavioural high temperature avoidance experiment showed that An. gambiae, the most efficient malaria vector species in Burkina Faso, was more sensitive to increased temperatures than its sibling species, Anopheles arabiensis . In nature, this probably results in short distance flights to seek cooler spots, typically the shaded resting sites under vegetation outdoors or cool dark comers indoors. The highly endophilic nature of An. gambiae protects the mosquito from the highly variable and more extreme external climate. This may explain the negative association between increased LSTN and the transmission because during the hot night spells local populations rest outdoor thus reducing knowingly or unknowingly the contact human-vector. The authors also found that female temperature avoidance was most pronounced in hungry females (which avoid temperatures above 25 °C), less strong in blood-feds (above 30 °C) and least strong in newly emerged females (above 32 °C). High night temperatures were also found to affect An. gambiae (one of the most predominant and effective malaria vector in Burkina Faso) behaviour and vectorial capacity [34, 35]. A significant negative association between temperature and malaria infection was also found in a previous study in Burkina Faso ; However the authors did not consider day and night temperatures separately and the climatic data considered in this study do not span the study period (April 2010–January 2011). The map of nighttime land surface temperatures (LSTN) is also provided (see Additional file 2).
The present study estimated a negative association between malaria parasitaemia and proximity with rice growing areas. The rice growing areas used in this study were extracted from the National land use database with cartographic scale coverage of 1/200,000 which features only large and economically relatively important rice growing areas. Furthermore, as exposed to an increased risk of malaria infection, surrounding populations receive relatively high attention from the local government including regular sensitization campaigns (Information Education and Communication). Consequently, as an income generating activity, the local population is relatively well off. This makes it easier to access health care and other protective measures. This effect is known in Burkina Faso as the “paddy paradox” defined as the occurrence of large populations of vectors but low amounts of malaria transmission where irrigated rice is grown.
The negative association has been reported in other studies in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gambia and Tanzania [36–39] The potential explanation might be that the irrigated rice fields are preferred habitats for An. arabiensis, which has a lesser vectorial capacity than other species .
Furthermore it is hypothesized that the “paddy paradox” is due to young pre-gravid mosquitoes dispersing more widely than gravid ones, not necessarily to low survival in the mosquito . The map of the distance between the clusters and the nearest rice-paddy field in kilometre is also provided (see Additional file 3).
The predicted spatial distribution of malaria parasitaemia risk ranges from 36 to 71 % across the country while the median predicted prevalence is 59 %. The predicted parasitaemia map shows the higher risks in the Southwest, South-Central and the Eastern region of the country. The above mentioned regions coincide with the regions of country bearing the highest vegetation density and receiving the highest annual rainfall relative to the northern part which receives less rainfall and is more “desertic”. The predicted parasitaemia risk map shows similarities as well as discrepancies with the previous mapping efforts. Compared to the P. falciparum endemicity map of the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), common patterns were found in the northern and northeastern parts of the country, which appeared to be less burdened . Discrepancies were identified regarding the highest burden areas which MAP places in the northwestern part of the country while our map estimates in southwestern Burkina Faso. Samadoulougou et al.  indicated that the northern and southwestern regions have the highest and lowest malaria risk respectively. The above discrepancies may be explained by the different climatic/environmental and other covariates used in the predictive models.
This study estimated higher number of infected children in the cities despite the relatively low prevalence observed in the urban settings. This finding is consistent with the results from previous study that used the BFDHS-MICS 2010 data . Differences were observed between raw and population-adjusted parasitaemia risk estimates which is explained by the low prevalence observed in densely populated areas. For example the province of Kadiogo, one of the smallest provinces with the highest population density and the lowest population-adjusted raw parasitaemia risk (34 %), shows an even lower parasitaemia risk adjustment for the population (4.04 %). Similar results were found using Senegal MIS 2008 data .
An increasing risk gradient with age was found. Infants had the lowest risk while older children had the highest risk. An association was observed between socio-economic status and malaria risk, with children within the least poor quintile being substantially at reduced risk. Similar results were observed in a previous study in Burkina Faso and in other malaria endemic areas [4, 6].