This week’s Fist Bump Friday goes out to VL Uganda for restarting their IRS campaign and to VL Senegal for the launch of their IRS campaign this past week. As we all know, implementing IRS during COVID-19 is no easy feat, and congratulations are due to these teams who have navigated this brave new world to protect people from malaria.
For example, VL Uganda – our largest IRS program with 1,393,562 structures targeted to be sprayed in two phases – has dealt with an ongoing nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, which came into effect during the project’s first phase of spraying in April. Despite the lockdown, the project achieved 94% coverage in eight districts with 695,891 structures sprayed. The lockdown disrupted Phase II of the IRS campaign, however. To ensure continuity of the malaria prevention measures and IRS gains, the project worked with the Ministry of Health and received clearance to continue implementing IRS during the lockdown in all eight districts targeted for Phase II. The project ensured that COVID-19 protection guidelines issued by the government and PMI were followed and started Phase II of spraying on Monday, May 25th.
VL Senegal, while not on a nationwide lockdown, also managed to overcome barriers, such as a curfew, the closure of some businesses, and limited travel between regions. VL Senegal launched Phase 1 (of two phases) of spraying in two districts, targeting nearly 45,000 structures, on Thursday, May 28th. Phase II will begin on July 2nd and will target more than 90,000 structures.
Similar to VL Uganda and all country programs spraying during COVID-19, VL Senegal has instituted measures to protect against the spread of the coronavirus and has adhered to PMI guidelines, while preparing for and implementing IRS, including:
- Additional handwashing stations at entrances to all training rooms and at operational sites.
- Decentralized training so that no more than 10 people were in one training room.
- Masks provided for all training participants and facilitators.
- Daily temperature checks using a touchless thermometer.
- COVID-19 mitigation strategies and community communications included in training materials for all seasonal staff.
- Additional vehicles hired to allow for fewer staff to travel together.
- Master Training conducted with VL Senegal staff remotely, using Web-ex.
- Box lunches provided to minimize contact with vendors.
- Posters and flyers indicating signs, symptoms and prevention measures for COVID-19 posted at operation sites.
- Morning mobilization conducted (including breakfast) in shifts of 15 minutes each so no more than 10 people are mobilized at a time.