Mr. Pagabelem talking with spray operators in the village of Soungoulé.

From Working with PMI VectorLink to Leading an Indoor Residual Spraying Campaign

Read this story in French here.

After four years working side-by-side with the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) to protect people against malaria in three health districts (Kampti, Kongoussi, and Solenzo) in Burkina Faso, the Permanent Secretariat for Malaria Elimination (SP/Palu) with the support of a private mining company took the lead in 2022 on a first of its kind, small-scale, government-led indoor residual spraying (IRS) campaign.

Mr. Ardiouma Pagabelem, a water and sanitation engineer, is the IRS focal point for Burkina Faso’s SP/Palu, formerly known as the National Malaria Control Program. While the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets is the primary malaria control tool in the country, Mr. Pagabelem has been collaborating with the PMI VectorLink project since 2018 to help conduct IRS in three higher malaria burden health districts where mosquitoes have high resistance to insecticides found in mosquito nets.

Mr. Pagabelem talking with spray operators in the village of Soungoulé.
Mr. Pagabelem (blue shirt) talking with spray operators in the village of Soungoulé. Photo credit: SP/Palu, Burkina Faso

Government resources are limited and aren’t sufficient to support a district wide IRS campaign; so, when leftover insecticide was available following PMI VectorLink’s 2021 IRS campaign, Mr. Pagabelem and his colleagues at SP/Palu looked for opportunities to maximize the investments already made. Around the same time, SP/Palu was approached by Endeavour Mining, which offered to finance an IRS campaign in the Dangouna health area, close to its operations, and the idea for a pilot program, the Malaria-Free Village project, was born.   

“Faced with the difficulty of mobilizing the financial resources of the government, the Malaria-Free Village project in Dangouna was an opportunity to implement a small-scale IRS campaign,” said Mr. Pagabelem.  It also gave SP/Palu the chance to put into practice the skills they had developed when collaborating on the PMI VectorLink-implemented IRS campaigns.

SP/Palu recruited spray operators who had previously worked on IRS campaigns implemented by PMI VectorLink. Mr. Pagabelem and his colleagues trained these spray operators to implement the campaign for the Malaria-Free Village Project while working with the regional, district, and local health officials to ensure that these seasonal workers received the necessary supervision.

A community meeting at Ble site.
A community meeting at Ble site. Photo credit: SP/Palu

Gold mining is a big industry in Burkina Faso, and companies like Endeavour Mining employ thousands of people in villages throughout their areas of operation.  Following the success of the program in Dangouna, Endeavour Mining’s subsidiary, Houndé Gold Operation, requested that SP/Palu extend the program and conduct IRS in Lokiéhoun, where the company also has operations.

In addition to providing the insecticide, PMI VectorLink Burkina Faso provided technical assistance and supported SP/Palu’s planning activities, with Chief of Party Dr. Adama Kone monitoring the campaign’s progress and guiding the team when needed.

In August and October 2022, spray operators sprayed over 4,700 homes in Dangouna and Lokiéhoun, protecting close to 15,500 people, including more than 400 pregnant women and 2,435 children under five.

Spray operators arriving at Ble site.
Spray operators arriving at Ble site. Photo credit: SP/Palu, Burkina Faso

While IRS protects people from malaria, questions around funding remain. “Vector control is crucial for Burkina Faso, which aims to eliminate malaria by 2030,” said Mr. Pagabelem. “However, vector control suffers from insufficient funding, particularly for the implementation of IRS.” Private companies like Endeavour Mining could contribute to the sustainability of these interventions.

Thanks to capacity strengthening efforts supported by PMI VectorLink, Burkina Faso has qualified personnel at the national level like Mr. Pagabelem who have expanded their skillsets to be able to implement IRS at WHO standards. However, the country needs the funding to execute these interventions. Working with private companies could bridge the gap and help the country meet its malaria goals.