This week’s Fist Bump goes out to the entire VL Cote d’Ivoire team for kicking off the country’s first-ever large-scale IRS campaign. Cote d’Ivoire joined the list of PMI-supported countries in 2018, and IRS was originally expected to take place in 2019. After being postponed to 2020, the VL Cote d’Ivoire team worked tirelessly to hire a full team, set up environmentally-compliant infrastructure, procure equipment, and develop strong relationships with local stakeholders in time for an early April campaign. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the National Malaria Control Program decided to postpone the campaign until the spread of the virus was under control. The team was confronted with a series of challenges in addition to the pandemic, which averted all STTAs in the lead-up to the campaign, and advocated for an August start date to account for peak malaria transmission, rainfall, and the presidential elections scheduled in October.
Despite challenges in the lead up to the first campaign for a brand-new team (no small feat, even under ideal circumstances) VL Cote d’Ivoire made excellent use of the extra time to become IRS aficionados, double down on training skills, simulate and troubleshoot common challenges, and deepen their relationship with local stakeholders. With all hands on deck, the team successfully conducted TOT, a suite of cascade training, and door-to-door mobilization to introduce beneficiaries to IRS. The 2020 campaign started on time on August 10th. The team is off to a strong start in their endeavor to protect 200,168 people from malaria.
The USAID Country Representative, Nancy Lowenthal, and the PMI Malaria Specialist, Blaise Kouadio, conducted a site visit on August 11th and gave their compliments to the team for a job well done! On August 13th, the official launch ceremony was held with the Ministry of Health and USAID Country Representative.
Huge kudos to the team for clearing the biggest hurdle under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and best of luck for the rest of the campaign!!
Special thanks to all the members of the global VectorLink team who generously lent their support and expertise to the Cote d’Ivoire team via WebEx in lieu of STTA. It was a real COVID-era team effort!