This week’s Fist Bump goes out to COP Lena Kolyada and the whole VL Ghana team for their adaptability and tenacity to carry out IRS during COVID-19. VL Ghana has successfully completed 20 days of its 30-day campaign with a current 90% coverage rate all while following PMI and WHO new guidelines to ensure the safety of all and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
VL Ghana had only days before the IRS campaign began to shift practices to ensure rigorous protocols were followed in the field. COVID protection measures include:
In Ghana, PMI VectorLink is on day 19 of a 30-day campaign. While office staff are working from home, IRS field operations continue with strong adherence to the COVID protection measures, including:
- Social distancing during breakfast time, morning mobilization, end-of-day cleanup and in the field.
- Use of additional mobile soak pits to reduce the number of SOPs in wash areas during end-of-day cleanup.
- SOPs wear full PPE, including masks, while transporting to the field. Bus drivers must wear masks as well.
- Protective gloves are worn by all SOPs for data capture and assistance with household preparation.
- Masks are worn by all those who stay at the site, such as shopkeepers, washers, etc. While staff who go to the communities change out their masks each day, those who stay at the operation site wear the same mask day-to-day to ensure an adequate supply of PPE throughout the campaign.
- Hand washing stations are in place at each operation site.
- Hand sanitizers and bleach for disinfecting vehicles and doorknobs, etc. are also available at each site.
- COVID-19 prevention posters are posted at all sites.
- Use of morning mobilization and regular job aids through SMS to remind spray teams on the measures to take to prevent COVID 19 spread.
Additionally, the team has developed a contingency protocol in case a positive coronavirus case is confirmed among PMI VectorLink workers. If a positive case is found at health centers, district disease control, and environmental health officers are informed. VectorLink is in regular contact with the district representatives to obtain the latest information on the evolving situation and keeps officials updated on spray progress. To date, VL Ghana is ahead of progress by 2 percent compared to the 2019 IRS campaign, with 90% coverage.
In the case of one refusal by a village chief who was not allowing strangers into the community due to COVID-19, VL Ghana explained the importance of malaria control and the measures VL was taking to protect against COVID-19. The village chief then allowed the community to be sprayed.
Ghana’s NMCP and regional health directorates are fully supporting the campaign and will integrate COVID protection measures and messaging as a model for a seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) campaign they are planning to carry out following the IRS campaign.
Way to go, VL Ghana! You are showing us all how we can continue our work and save lives from malaria.
I’d also like to give a shout out to COP Laurent Iyikirenga and the VL Benin team, which launched IRS on time in three departments on April 13th. VL Benin is taking similar measures as VL Ghana while also assigning the task of cleaning pumps and helmets to the pump technicians, while boots, gloves, and coverall are cleaned by the washers to avoid congestion in rinsing areas and guarantee social distancing during the end-of-day cleanup.
Good luck VL Ghana and VL with finishing out your campaigns, and congratulations to you all!