Ethiopia Sees Dramatic Reduction in Malaria in IRS Region

Rates of Malaria-related Illnesses and Deaths Drop in 2018 after PMI VectorLink Conducts IRS Campaign

PMI VectorLink is helping the people in Ethiopia’s Gambela Region to enjoy healthier lives thanks to IRS. Spray operators ensure households understand how to prepare for spray. Photos: PMI VectorLink Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, malaria is endemic to the country’s western Gambela Region and one of the region’s top three causes of sickness and death. The 2015 Malaria Indicator Survey indicated that malaria prevalence is higher in Gambela (18.4%) than in any other region in Ethiopia (national average of 1.2%). In 2017, Gambela’s health facilities reported 102,053 cases of malaria and 13 malaria deaths. To help reduce the burden of malaria, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project conducted indoor residual spraying (IRS) throughout Gambela in 2018. IRS involves spraying insecticide on the indoor walls and ceilings where mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite tend to rest.

The PMI VectorLink Project worked with the Gambela Regional Health Bureau (RHB) to plan for and spray the homes of all residents in the 14 districts of the region with an estimated population of 315,577. The project successfully sprayed 95,564 structures over the course of 20 days, protecting 301,382 people from malaria, including 13,051 pregnant women and 62,792 children under five. The RHB described the 2018 results of the IRS campaign in Gambela Region as one of the best malaria interventions ever experienced in the region.

“There has been a drastic reduction in malaria burden in Gambela Region for first time in many years,” said Dr. Oman Amulu, Head of the Gambela RHB. “Over the years, the region has been implementing interventions for malaria, but there has been no drastic reduction in malaria burden until in 2018 when quality IRS was implemented. We noticed a huge reduction in malaria cases and malaria fatalities. This can only be because of the quality IRS supported by PMI VectorLink as it was the only difference in malaria intervention from previous years.”

According to data from the RHB, malaria cases in September 2018 were 39% lower than those recorded during the same month in 2017. Annual deaths attributed to malaria also fell from 13 in 2017 to 3 in 2018. In 2018, Gambela Region recorded a cumulative 57,882 cases of malaria compared to 94,257 in 2017 and 92,465 in 2016.

Regional Malaria Health Promotion Disease Prevention Officer, Jay Orem, said that the 2018 statistics are a result of good planning, quality training, and effective supervision, which led to high coverage and quality IRS. Although the region conducted spray campaigns in the past, in 2018, Orem said the teams received more systematic supervision and submitted performance data daily.

“PMI VectorLink Project has made a huge difference in planning, training and supervision for IRS. This is what has been missing for many years in Gambela Region to eliminate malaria,” said Orem.