PMI VectorLink Mali’s Collaboration with Local Leaders in IRS Ensures Communities in Bandiagara, Djenne and Mopti Districts are Protected from Malaria

2021 IRS Campaign Launch, with Mr Moussa Kamian, Village Chief of Soufouroulaye, June 7, 2021 (Mopti District)

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge public health workers implementing malaria interventions across the globe. In Mali, ongoing civil unrest added to those challenges, putting critical vector control services at risk. The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project supports countries to conduct indoor residual spraying (IRS) to kill and repel the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite, which can infect people and cause serious illness and death. PMI VectorLink Mali collaborated closely with communities to ensure people were protected from the deadly disease of malaria despite these challenges.

PMI VectorLink Mali communicated regularly by phone with local administrative authorities and community leaders to effectively monitor the security situation in the areas it sprays. When security issues prevented spray teams from adhering to the planned spray operations, the village chiefs were contacted by the spray team to reschedule the spray date, and the project closely tracked the  ongoing security situation.

The local administrative authorities also played an important role in increasing community awareness and acceptance of IRS. For example, PMI VectorLink Mali engaged village chiefs and their deputies to ensure homeowners were prepared to accept IRS. One day before the arrival of the spray team, under the authority and direction of the village chief, the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) mobilizer went door to door providing important information to the community about IRS and reminded homeowners how to prepare their houses for spraying.

In previous years, PMI VectorLink Mali came across homes in rural areas that were locked due to people working in agricultural fields when the spray teams arrived. However, this year, thanks to community collaboration, homeowners were well prepared, and PMI VectorLink Mali was able to safely conduct the spray campaign. As a result, PMI VectorLink Mali successfully completed the 2021 IRS campaign, protecting approximately 233,663 people, including 45,249 children under five years old, and 17,768 pregnant women. The team exceeded its target spray coverage of 85% to reach 96.7% spray coverage during the campaign as a result of the strong relationship and trust the project has built with local partners and beneficiaries.

“We trust that once again this year, thanks to IRS, there will be fewer and fewer cases of malaria in our community,” said Sogoba Dembele, President of the Women’s Association in Bounguel, Djenne District. “As mothers, we are very pleased for that because it will prevent us from spending our time in hospitals, which gives us time for taking care of our daily business for the well-being of the whole family.”

PMI VectorLink Published Paper Explores New Ways to Reduce Burgeoning Costs of Vector Control to Fight Malaria

Findings in Northern Ghana show partial wall spraying in IRS retains efficacy in killing the mosquito species known to spread malaria. Photo taken in Bunbuna, Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District, Northern Region, Ghana. Photo by: Sylvester Coleman

New findings from the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project published in Scientific Reports today show the potential for reducing costs of indoor residual spraying while retaining efficacy in killing the mosquito species known to spread malaria. Over the past two decades, massive reductions in deaths and illnesses from malaria have come from IRS, which uses insecticides to kill the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite. Increasingly, those gains are threatened as widespread resistance to commonly used pyrethroid insecticides calls for the use of new and costly insecticides for IRS. Faced with increasing operational costs, the PMI VectorLink Project led a study in Ghana in collaboration with Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and Imperial College London to find innovative ways to effectively combat malaria with the reduced use of insecticide. In a village-wide trial in northern Ghana using experimental huts and houses, the team evaluated the efficacy of reducing the area of wall sprayed with the insecticide pirimiphos-methyl against Anopheles gambiae s.l., the primary vector that spreads the disease. 

Experimental huts and houses in northern Ghana used to study the efficacy of partially-sprayed walls in IRS.

The transmission model “predicts that the efficacy of partial IRS against all-age prevalence of malaria after six months would be broadly equivalent to a full IRS campaign in which 40% reduction is expected relative to no spray campaign. At scale, partial IRS in northern Ghana would have resulted in a 33% cost savings ($496,426) that would enable spraying of 36,000 additional rooms. These findings suggest that partial IRS is an effective, feasible, and cost saving approach to IRS that could be adopted to sustain and expand implementation of this key malaria control intervention.”

PMI VectorLink Senior Technical Advisor Aklilu Seyoum said, “This very important study strongly indicated that partial IRS could be a good alternative to the current practice of full IRS. This has the potential to increase the population protected by IRS and save more lives in malaria-endemic countries. A more rigorous randomized control trial is now being planned by the PMI VectorLink Project before large-scale application of this important approach can be used in the control programs.”

To learn more, read the article here.

PMI Collaborates with Communities to Beat Malaria

The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project collaborates with national and local governments to identify, study, and record where malaria-transmitting mosquitoes live, how they feed, when they rest, and the density of their population. In Kenya, PMI trained community health volunteers on how to catch and monitor mosquitoes, expanding the national government’s geographical reach to collect critical data on mosquitoes from two counties. This data will help to inform vector control decision making in the fight against malaria. 

Women in Entomology

From the Field to the Lab, Women Fight to End Malaria

Gains in reducing morbidity and mortality from malaria depend on the use of effective insecticides in vector control measures, such as IRS and ITNs. With more people qualified to carry out entomological monitoring, PMI is equipping country partners with the tools and knowledge needed to fight this deadly disease. This World Mosquito Day, PMI VectorLink celebrates the women in science who find, share, and use entomological evidence to fight malaria in their own countries. Read about them here. 

Focusing on An. stephensi in Ethiopia

WORLD MOSQUITO DAY: FOCUSING ON THE INVASIVE AN. STEPHENSI IN ETHIOPIA

An Asian malaria vector is invading Ethiopia and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. If this invasive vector continues to spread, large parts of Ethiopia could see dramatic increases in incidence of malaria.
Lives are at stake. Where do we go from here?

The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative VectorLink Project’s Senior Entomologist Aklilu Seyoum will host a compelling discussion with leading entomologists as they share their latest research on the An. stephensi mosquito and what it means for those most vulnerable to malaria in Ethiopia.

Presenters:

  • Dr. Fitsum Girma (Lead Scientist, Armauer Hansen Research Institute) from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health
  • Dr. Meshesha Balkew (Vector Monitoring Director, PMI VectorLink Ethiopia)
  • Dr. Thomas Churcher (Reader in Infectious Disease Dynamics) from Imperial College

JOIN US (French translation provided. See links below.)
Friday, August 20, 2021 at 8:00 am
Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)

 ttps://abtassociates.webex.com/abtassociates/onstage/g.php?MTID=e1ae4badac1da32ed537057c9dd0ec02e
Password: vectorlink

This is an open webinar. Please share the link with partners and vector control stakeholders.

 

French:  Meeting Information

Meeting link:

https://abtassociates.webex.com/abtassociates/j.php?MTID=mc0509ab3670e6e51d826a2a2f8e1e3a5

 

Community Leaders Help to End Malaria

Village chief Ubore Ali Bechanignan meets with VL Ghana Chief of Party Lena Kolyada after spraying. Photo: Taufiq Mohammed Osman

In Tatale-Sanguli District (TSD) of Northern Ghana malaria mortality dropped by 80 percent from 2018 to 2020, according to reports from the regional health directorate. This decrease corresponds to the support the district started receiving from the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project, which conducts indoor residual spraying (IRS) to kill the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite. By 2021, with the help of the project, the leaders of the district’s Tangbabong community knew that fighting this deadly disease required commitment. For IRS to be successful, 85 percent of the homes in the targeted area must be sprayed to achieve community protection. In Tangbabong, these community leaders see IRS as a top priority in their efforts to end malaria.

When the chief and elders are informed about the spraying date, they prepare the community. A gongong (a local drum at the chief palace used to make important announcements) is beaten to inform community members about the benefits of the spraying and the date it will occur. Community leaders mobilize households and support community health volunteers to remind homeowners to prepare for spraying and to comply with health and safety guidelines.

On the day of spraying, every household removes their belongings from their homes and dedicates the day to spraying-related activities, including providing water for mixing insecticide. In some instances, a community health volunteer together with community members prepare the homes of neighbors who have traveled to ensure that no one is missed in benefiting from IRS. This support is also extended to neighbors who are unable to remove their belongings themselves. Upon the arrival of the spray team, homeowners are so eager to have their homes sprayed early that they will urge spray operators to come to their homes first.

While the spray team is in the community, the chief and elders meet with the project team to express their appreciation and hope that together malaria can be eliminated just as guinea worm was in the Northern Region in 2010. If a home is not sprayed during the first IRS visit, community elders follow up with a community health volunteer or community health nurse, and in some instances, through a recruited project staff living in the community, to request the spray team to revisit the community.

The success of IRS in Tangbabong (98.8% spray coverage) in 2021 is largely due to community leaders taking the steps needed to ensure that the community is protected from the disease and because community members recognize that vector control is a part of their communal responsibility.  It was after the 2020 spray campaign when spray coverage reached 92.9% that the chiefs and elders of Tangbabong decided to increase coverage in subsequent campaigns. Engaging the community in the 2021 IRS campaign resulted in the improved coverage of 98.8%, protecting 410 community members. Today, community leadership is happy to have one of the best spray coverages comparable to their 10 neighboring villages where the average coverage is 94%.

Chief Bechanignan said, “I previously could not enjoy the evening breeze in my home because of mosquitoes, but now I am able to do so for a long while before going to bed.”  He expressed his gratitude and pledged to “always ensure that his community participates in IRS.”

 

PMI VectorLink Extended to further Its Work in Ending Malaria

The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) recently extended the PMI VectorLink Project another 12 months, continuing its work to September 2023. Led by Abt Associates in partnership with Population Services International and PATH along with the support of Liverpool School of Tropical MedicineMalaria ConsortiumInnovative Vector Control ConsortiumMcKinsey & Company, Inc., EnCompass LLCBAO Systems LLCDigital Globe, and Dimagi, Inc., the PMI VectorLink Project initially began in September 2017 as a five-year project to reduce the burden of malaria.

The one-year extension reflects the project’s success in planning, implementing, and monitoring life-saving vector control programs for indoor residual spraying (IRS) of insecticides and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) across 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa as well as in Cambodia and Columbia.

PMI VectorLink successfully navigated the challenges presented by COVID-19, including border closures, national lockdowns, and serious delays and drastic cost increases in the production, supply, and delivery of malaria commodities. Some of the highlights from 2020 include:

  • 21.3 million people protected from malaria through 16 timely, high-quality IRS campaigns

  • 3.49 million children and 636,527 pregnant women protected

  • >58,000 seasonal workers hired to support IRS (33% female)

  • >5.8 million insecticide treated nets (ITNs) distributed

  • 5 peer-reviewed journal articles published on studies that assessed malaria risks and increased trust in new vector control approaches

PMI VectorLink is excited to continue its fight to end malaria! Keep following us on our journey.

 

 

PMI VectorLink Wins Social Impact Award

A PMI VectorLink spray operator prepares the insecticide tank for spraying. Photos by: Arnaud Rakotonirina

The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project recently won the 2021 Clark Abt Award for Outstanding Social Impact, the highest award given by Abt Associates.

Working across 24 countries in Africa as well as Cambodia and Colombia, the PMI VectorLink Project protects more than 31 million people a year from malaria by equipping countries to deliver safe, cost-effective, and sustainable indoor residual spraying (IRS), insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), and other life-saving malaria vector control interventions. The project is implemented by Abt Associates in partnership with Population Services International and PATH along with the support of Liverpool School of Tropical MedicineMalaria ConsortiumInnovative Vector Control ConsortiumMcKinsey & Company, Inc., EnCompass LLCBAO Systems LLCDigital Globe, and Dimagi, Inc.

When COVID-19 began spreading rapidly across the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on countries to continue malaria services to prevent further strain on health systems. Preventable malaria cases would compete with COVID-19 cases for hospital beds and medical attention. Countries battling the fight against malaria are often the same countries that struggle with overburdened health systems. Populations frequently have limited access to safe, affordable, and adequate health care.

Tens of millions of lives were at stake. Heeding WHO’s call was essential, and PMI VectorLink needed to continue implementation while also protecting frontline workers, staff, partners, and beneficiaries from COVID-19. Contending with border closures, national lockdowns, and serious delays and drastic cost increases in the production, supply, and delivery of malaria commodities, the project successfully carried out 16 high-quality, timely IRS campaigns and helped to distribute nearly 6 million ITNs, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project quickly identified ways to adapt implementation of a variety of vector control activities to the COVID-19 context through innovative approaches, allowing for minimal disruptions in implementation of life-saving vector control interventions while mitigating the risk of project activities to beneficiaries and project staff.

Malaria kills more than 400,000 people every year, and millions more fall sick from this vector-borne disease. Young children and pregnant women are among the most vulnerable. Healthy populations contribute to healthier economies, which can translate into stability and peace in a country, region and the world. When children are healthy, they can go to school, and parents, particularly women, who are most often the family caregivers, can focus on income-generating activities. Malaria protection also allows countries’ health systems to allocate funds to emerging health crises, such as COVID-19, rather than malaria.

PMI VectorLink’s senior management team (Bradford Lucas, Allan Were, Mariandrea Chamorro, Angela Sanchez, Kathryn Stillman, Aklilu Seyoum, and Peter Chandonait) accepted the award on behalf of the project. Named in honor of Abt Associates’ founder, the annual Clark Abt Prize recognizes a project that has had significant social impact. In 2014, the PMI Africa Indoor Residual Spraying Project, the predecessor to the PMI VectorLink Project, also won the Clark Abt Prize. Learn more here.

PMI VectorLink Study Findings of Invasive Malaria Vector in Africa Published

PMI VectorLink published its findings on the invasive malaria vector Anopheles stephensi in Ethiopia in Malaria Journal this week.

Collection of An. atephensi larval from breeding containers in Awash Subah, Ethiopia. PMI VectorLink collected An. stephensi larvae in urban and rural sites in eastern Ethiopia. An. stephensi larvae were not found in western Ethiopian sites.

The study, “An update on the distribution, bionomics, and insecticide susceptibility of An. stephensi in Ethiopia, 2018-2020,” looks at the distribution, bionomics, insecticide susceptibility, and transmission potential of the vector.

One of the primary malaria vectors in South Asia, the vector was first reported in Africa in 2012 in Djibouti. Since then, the vector has been found in Ethiopia, Somali, and Sudan, and poses grave concern malaria control.

While more data is needed, the study will help inform Ethiopia’s vector control decisionmakers on how to reduce this vector’s population and its spread of malaria as it unveils more information on this invasive species in Africa. Read more here.

 

https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12936-021-03801-3