PMI VectorLink Findings on Outdoor Mosquito Traps Published in Parasites & Vectors
Understanding the behavior of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, such as when and where they bite, is essential to reducing the spread of the disease. Human landing catch (HLC) remains one of the most common methods for measuring human biting rates indoors and outdoors. The high costs and ethical concerns related to increased risk of infectious bites from HLC, however, spurred PMI VectorLink to study alternative trapping methods in western Kenya. Those findings, which were recently published in Parasites & Vectors, showed that baited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Light Traps may be the most appropriate tool currently available for assessing outdoor-biting and malaria transmission risk. Read more here.
PMI VectorLink Malawi Reduces Environmental Impact of IRS
The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative VectorLink Project, in partnership with National Malaria Control Programs, protects millions of people every year from malaria, a deadly infectious disease. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) controls malaria by spraying insecticide on the walls and ceilings where malaria-carrying mosquitoes rest. The project ensures the environmental impact of IRS is minimal and responsibly manages waste such as plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, worn personal protective equipment, and other materials. The PMI VectorLink Project adheres to strict environmental guidelines and protocols to protect land, water, air, and human health when implementing IRS and follows a hierarchy of reducing waste and recycling waste to mitigate environmental impact.
Solid waste that cannot be reused and has not come into contact with insecticides or has been washed clean of the insecticides meet the criteria for recycling. Waste management remains a challenge in Malawi, however, as there are few companies able and licensed to work in the country. The PMI VectorLink Project established public-private partnerships with two reputable waste recyclers in Malawi that are approved and licensed by the Government of Malawi through the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The project now donates the eligible waste for recycling, which reduces the amount of waste being sent to the landfill, to O.G. Plastic Industries (2008) Limited, CSH Investments, and HongSheng Packaging Limited. The PMI VectorLink Project signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the companies which lays out how the waste should be handled, recycled, and managed. This past year the PMI VectorLink Project was able to recycle 93,191 insecticide bottles; 6,688 Kg of cardboard/cartons and paper; 2,764 face shields; 39,429 water bottles (500 ml) and 41,250 Maheu Energy Drink bottles. Other items that were recycled included unrepairable Goizper Sprayers, worn out helmets; damaged plastic basins, containers, jerry cans, cups, and other plastic ware; and torn and used black plastic sheets used for covering household items during spray.
These products have been transformed in many different ways. For instance, insecticide bottles and spray operators’ scratched face shields have been recycled into solvent containers, laundry jugs, and liquid soap bottles. The plastic containers from the energy drinks consumed by spray operators before the day’s work are made into black plastic sheets, which can be used together with grass as roof covers for houses.
“The work being done by PMI VectorLink Malawi to combat malaria through indoor residual spraying is very commendable,” said Patrick Medius Nyirenda, Environmental Officer, from Malawi’s Environmental Affairs Department. “The battle against diseases such as malaria cannot be won by government alone. It is pleasing to note that in order to ensure sustainable implementation of the project, PMI VectorLink has committed itself towards recycling of waste and unwanted materials from their operations. This is in line with [Malawi’s] National Waste Management Strategy (2019-2023), which promotes waste segregation, reuse, recycling, and resource recovery as key strategies to address waste management challenges in the country.”
Recycling conserves natural resources, strengthens the economy through sales of products from the recycling processes and helps to create jobs in the industry. Recycling is an essential method of sustainable materials management, which emphasizes the productive and sustainable use of materials across their entire life cycle while minimizing the environmental impact. Recycling also further conserves material which would have been used as raw materials from the natural environment to produce the same needed products.
The PMI VectroLink Project works to end malaria across sub-Saharan Africa. This World Malaria Day, we want to recognize our Malaria Fighters from the past year who have shown and proven their dedication to defeating this disease. Scroll down below to check out the full interviews.
“There has been a great reduction of malaria morbidity and mortality in Kenya’s lake regions since PMI started working in these malaria endemic areas. This reduction can be attributed to key interventions like indoor residual spraying (IRS) and the use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs).”
Professionally, PMI VectorLink Kenya Operations Manager Zeddy Bore has spent the past 13 years fighting malaria. Growing up in Kenya’s Rift Valley regions, Zeddy battled her fair share of malaria personally, too. “I managed to pull through, unlike some children in the malaria endemic regions who succumbed to it,” said Zeddy.
As VectorLink Kenya Operations Manager, Zeddy leads the complex logistics of planning and implementing IRS, which kills the mosquitoes that transmit malaria by spraying insecticide on the walls, ceilings, and other indoor resting places of those mosquitoes. Zeddy’s interest in fighting malaria began in school when she was studying for her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health from Moi University. She then went on to completing a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Population Health from Maseno University. Recently, Zeddy talked about her work with the PMI VectorLink Project and the journey she’s taken to get there.
What is your personal experience with malaria? Malaria was a common illness in our home and community with many people regularly affected. They often associated the illness with eating unripe sugarcane or being rained on. These myths were later demystified for me when I went to school and learned that malaria is transmitted by a female mosquito infected with the malaria parasite. I also learned that malaria is highly preventable as well as treatable.
In my family, the last time we had a malaria case was in 2010. Since then, I have always ensured that my house is sprayed as regularly as required, everyone sleeps under an insecticide treated net, and all the windows are screened. I have also trained my children to ensure that the doors and windows are closed around 5 pm and only opened if needed. When any of my family members is unwell and has a fever, I take them to the health facility. Luckily, we have not had an episode recently. I always discourage self-medication for any fever.
No life should be lost to malaria. As a malaria advocate and champion, I have sensitized my relatives and community members about the dangers of malaria, how it is spread, and the various prevention and treatment options available. VL Kenya with the Ministry of Health came up with different strategies, such as community meetings, and the use of community health volunteers and provincial administration as IRS community mobilizers, to demystify the myths and encourage residents to accept IRS.
Recently, the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign was launched in Kenya. This campaign advocates for everyone to take action to prevent malaria wherever they are. As a mother and as part of the PMI VectorLink Project, I encourage residents to actively play their part to prevent malaria in their communities by preparing their houses for spray.
What is your role as Operations Manager? I work very closely with national and county government leadership to plan and implement the spray operations in the country and lead advocacy strategies to promote behavior change activities that lead to reduced malaria mortality and morbity in the counties where PMI VectorLink sprays. IRS is currently being implemented in two counties (Homa Bay and Migori) out of the 47 counties in Kenya. Apart from coordinating IRS activities, I also serve as the gender focal person advocating for gender equity and social inclusion in project activities.
How did you get involved with malaria prevention? I am a trained environmental and public health professional. During my internship with the Ministry of Health in 2007, I participated in mosquito net treatment and health education on malaria control. Through this, I developed an interest in malaria prevention activities. In 2008, I began working on an IRS project and I have been doing it ever since.
What do you find most challenging about your job? The biggest challenge is convincing community members who believe in myths and misconceptions to accept their houses to be sprayed. It’s always heartbreaking for me to see a household owner refuse their house to be sprayed when they have children under five and/or have an expectant mother sleeping in those houses. Sometimes they have recently had an episode of malaria, yet they still refuse because of these myths.
What is challenging about reaching every household? IRS is conducted in eligible structures made of wood, reeds, stones, bricks, and mud. The insecticide is applied on the walls and ceilings. Not all structures in the two counties we spray are eligible because of the type of materials their house is made of. Ineligible materials include such things as iron sheets, glass, or metal. During the rainy season, some villages are cut off by floods. To address that challenge, we always plan to start in the hard-to-reach areas before the rains start. Some refusals are also experienced when a member of the household is sick. The good news is that once the 85% coverage is achieved, the missed households also enjoy the herd protection from IRS.
How has IRS implementation changed with COVID-19? We adjusted the way we implement IRS activities. PMI VectorLink established standards and protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while conducting the various activities. For example, we hold virtual meetings, and where needed, hold in-person meetings outdoors with all the required Ministry of Health and global protocols observed, including social distancing, wearing masks and regular washing of hands. During the campaign, all personnel were provided with masks and advised to always wear them properly. Supervisors always checked to ensure this was adhered to with constant reminders during morning mobilization and through job aid messages. Temperature screening was required to access operations sites, stores, and offices. Handwashing facilities were put up in all the entrances and monitored to ensure compliance. We also provided hand sanitizer and hand wipes in all vehicles, data centers, and stores.
Do you think Kenya will ever be free of malaria?
Yes. With integrated efforts in the different regions to fight malaria and everyone taking up their role to fight malaria, thanks to the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign, I believe Kenya is headed to be a malaria-free zone.
A new study funded by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and led by the PMI VectorLink Project found that new vector control tools, such as insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) treated with chlorfenapyr and the synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO), may help to provide better protection against malaria in Côte d’Ivoire than those currently used. Previously, ITNs treated with pyrethroids alone were the primary net choice in Côte d’Ivoire because they were the only type of ITN available and the pyrethroid insecticide was effective in killing vector mosquitoes on contact. The nets provided additional benefits by serving as a physical barrier between people and malaria-carrying mosquitoes, protecting communities from malaria as they slept. Unfortunately, the widespread use of pyrethroid insecticides has resulted in mosquitoes building up resistance to the insecticide, making the pyrethroid-treated nets less effective.
The mosquito’s resistance to pyrethroid insecticides has had serious implications in the efforts made to control the Anopheles mosquito population in Côte d’Ivoire. As mosquitoes increasingly become resistant to all pyrethroid insecticides across the country and much of Africa, National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) are challenged with finding new ways to protect populations from malaria. This study, published in the Malaria Journal in December 2020, demonstrated the relative increase in effectiveness observed when exposing the pyrethroid-resistant mosquitoes to either PBO in combination with pyrethroids or to chlorfenapyr. Both options represent avenues for NMCPs to develop insecticide resistance management strategies. In Côte d’Ivoire specifically, Interceptor® G2 (IG2), a chlorfenapyr- and alpha-cypermethrin-treated net was identified as an option for a stratified distribution campaign in addition to PBO nets.
Despite multiple mass distribution and education campaigns to promote the continuous use of ITNs in country, malaria still accounts for about 33% of consultations in health facilities, with children and women being the most vulnerable populations. WHO 2019 (World Malaria Report) reports Côte d’Ivoire having an incidence of more than 250 cases per thousand people in at-risk populations. In the same period, malaria incidence has doubled in children under the age of five years old (NMCP Annual Report 2019). Given the variable insecticide resistance trends of vectors and the heterogeneity of malaria endemicity across the country, implementing a strategy for the distribution of the new nets required extra consideration. VectorLink Côte d’Ivoire provided technical support to the NMCP to conduct entomological monitoring to help select the most appropriate nets for use in country. Insecticide resistance data collected by the project and the country’s research institute consortium in previous years were used to profile the country and stratify districts for the upcoming 2021 mass net distribution campaign. Once the most appropriate nets were selected based on entomological findings, Global Fund, PMI, and NMCP allocated PBO and Interceptor G2 nets across districts where each type of net’s active ingredients was found to be efficacious against the local mosquito population.
With 113 health districts and varying resistance patterns across the country, PMI VectorLink’s ability to prioritize the districts based on mosquito susceptibility to insecticides used on the Interceptor G2 and PBO nets helped the country make the best use of limited resources. The NMCP Coordinator, Dr. Antoine Mea Tanoh, commended the project’s use of entomological and epidemiological data to guide the strategic deployment of insecticide-based vector control interventions to protect the population. Armed with the most accurate and relevant entomological data, Côte d’Ivoire was able to procure the necessary 19, 313,573 nets to ensure the entire population of nearly 28 million people across 113 districts received the most appropriate ITN intervention for the upcoming campaign.
The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project promotes gender equity at every level of indoor residual spray (IRS) operations. IRS treats the inside walls of homes with long-lasting insecticides; it kills mosquitoes and disrupts the transmission of malaria. To celebrate International Women’s Day the PMI VectorLink Project is highlighting just a few of the women working hard to protect those most vulnerable from malaria. From supervisors to spray operators to truck drivers, women are doing it all.
When the COVID-19 global pandemic led to lockdowns and travel restrictions, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project adapted its work in the field to continue to protect people from malaria while mitigating the risk of COVID-19. Furthermore, the project modified its monitoring activities, including assessing the efficacy of vector control tools, such as insecticide-treated nets (ITNs).
The PMI VectorLink Project works with National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) to assess the durability and estimated average useful life of an ITN. These durability monitoring studies generate data on the survivorship, physical durability, and insecticidal effectiveness of ITNs over the three years following a mass distribution campaign.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented serious challenges to implementing durability monitoring since data is gathered using an in-depth household survey, net assessments, cone bioassays, and chemical content testing. The PMI VectorLink Project had to adapt quickly to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for study participants and field teams so ITN durability monitoring activities could continue in nine countries.
These adaptations included wearing masks and gloves while in the field, frequent use of hand sanitizer, switching from written to oral consent to participate in the study round, limiting the number of individuals in field vehicles, and altering the method of net assessment by measuring holes with a ruler on the outside of the net to minimize contact with it.
Training processes were also altered in response to COVID-19. In all nine countries, PMI VectorLink Project conducted online training-of-trainers (TOT) followed by an in-person field worker training. In total, 162 hours of virtual TOT were conducted with 78 individuals from local data collection agencies, NMCPs, VectorLink, and global partners. Following TOT, local study leads conducted in-person fieldworker trainings to prepare fieldworkers for data collection. In-person activities reinforced COVID-19 mitigation measures, with trainings conducted outdoors where possible, participants maintaining physical distancing guidelines, and masks worn by all participants.
Burundi, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, and Niger were all scheduled to conduct data collection before August 2020, but a variety of in-country COVID-19 restrictions prevented activities from being carried out as planned. As soon as country restrictions were lifted, fieldwork continued with only minimal delays. Between September and December 2020, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone conducted data collection as scheduled. By the end of 2020, PMI VectorLink had effectively and efficiently carried out all planned 2020 activities over five months rather than the originally planned 10 months.
For all nine countries combined, over a period of 140 days, data collectors visited 314 clusters where 126 fieldworkers were involved in administering surveys and assessing cohort mosquito nets. To date, 3,600 households have been visited, data has been collected on 7,600 nets, and more than 3,500 nets have been assessed for holes.
In addition to the household surveys and cohort nets, fieldworkers also collected 630 campaign nets to undergo bioassay analysis. These tests were conducted by seven different partners in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, and Niger.
Bioassays were also performed on new types of nets (piperonyl-butoxide [PBO] and Interceptor G2 brand [IG2]) for the first time as a part of the Burkina Faso study. PBO and IG2 nets are likely to play an important role in controlling pyrethroid-resistant malaria vector species and were distributed in Burkina Faso in 2019. Bioassay standard operating procedures (SOPs) for PBO and IG2 brand nets were developed by PMI, and Burkina Faso was the first PMI VectorLink-supported country to conduct durability monitoring of both PBO-synergist and dual active ingredient nets, in addition to standard pyrethroid nets. The Research Institute of Health Sciences (IRSS) in Bobo-Dioulasso successfully conducted cone bioassays of pyrethroid and PBO nets and tunnel tests with IG2 nets using well-characterized pyrethroid resistant and susceptible colonies of An. gambiae s.l. Experience from baseline tests led to SOP revisions, including a standardized approach to characterization of pyrethroid resistant Anopheles for use in bioassays and increasing the number of positive control new nets to quantify any loss of efficacy more accurately in field nets.
Dr. Gauthier Tougri, Medical Epidemiologist and Program Coordinator for the Burkina Faso NMCP said, “Burkina Faso introduced new generation ITNs [PBO and IG2 nets] for the first time during the universal ITN distribution campaign in 2019. It was therefore timely to conduct this durability study which should allow us to confirm not only that the insecticides used remain effective on existing Anopheles in areas where resistance had been observed, but also that these nets can indeed remain effective during the time interval between distributions.”
In 2021, PMI VectorLink will be conducting durability monitoring studies in 11 countries (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia). In addition, VectorLink will prepare for streamlined durability monitoring activities in Malawi and Nigeria to begin in 2022. VectorLink will draw on its COVID-19 lessons learned to successfully manage these studies: remote training of trainers’ sessions will be conducted to support local study teams, and all in-person trainings and fieldwork will comply with COVID-19 mitigation measures. VectorLink has strengthened in-person training guidelines to further minimize risks to participants and presenters. With advanced COVID-19 planning, all 2021 studies are expected to be conducted on schedule, continuing PMI’s commitment to support NMCPs to generate data on ITN durability.
Passionate. That’s how one would describe Prince Owusu’s commitment to fighting malaria. For nearly two decades, Prince has promoted the use of bed nets across Ghana. With a Master of Science in Development Management from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wales, Prince is deeply dedicated to bringing insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to those most vulnerable to the deadly disease. Recently, Prince talked about his work as PMI VectorLink’s ITN Lead and what led him here.
What is your personal experience with malaria? In the past, I experienced at least two episodes of malaria a year. However, I’ve had no malaria for the past 5-6 years. As a parent, I’ve had a few unpleasant experiences with my children suffering from malaria. Fortunately, they hardly ever get malaria now. Our household malaria prevention does not only revolve around sleeping in ITNs but also ensuring a minimum or no entry of mosquitoes indoors. I make sure doors are closed when not in use and that the window screens have no holes. We also make sure there are no stagnant waters around the house that could serve as breeding places for mosquitoes.
Additionally, my work interactions with pregnant women and children suffering from malaria has made me very passionate about promoting malaria prevention efforts among households. I have a strong passion in seeing malaria-free healthy households so that children, pregnant women and all members are healthy and can go about their normal duties.
What is your role as the ITN Lead for the PMI VectorLink Project?
My role is to ensure all ITN-related malaria prevention planned activities are implemented and achieve high quality results. I work with the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) vector control team to ensure households obtain ITNs through mass campaigns and routine channels, such as health facilities and schools. I also develop social and behavior change interventions to promote consistent ITN use and care among household members in efforts to reduce malaria. A key intervention being implemented is encouraging school children to drive ITN use and care among their peers, parents and in communities through drama and other community engagements.
How did you get involved with malaria prevention?
I’m a trained agriculturalist and started my career as an agricultural marketer. In that role, I was introduced to insecticides for bed net treatments. At the time, we didn’t have long-lasting insecticide treated nets. Increasingly, I became more interested in public health.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
There are basically two challenges: ensuring ITNs reach every household and closing the gap between ITN ownership and use.
What is challenging about reaching every household?
If we distribute ITNs through the routine channel of health facilities, we are targeting children receiving immunizations and pregnant women. We can miss a lot of people that way. Also, in remote areas, the terrain can be rough. Health workers will often use motorbikes when larger vehicles can’t travel the roads. There are times that the motorbikes don’t have the capacity to carry the adequate number of nets needed.
During mass distribution of nets, we have to think about how we can reach every household. Households need to be registered in advance so that we know how many nets are needed. Registration officers are allocated to communities. If community boundaries aren’t well-marked, pockets of households may not be registered, and they can miss out on receiving a net. Other times, people may not be home during the days to be registered. So, we have to be sure we return to these households in the evenings or on the weekends. Furthermore, the most vulnerable may not have houses.
How does someone without a house get and use a net?
We demonstrate how nets can be used in open spaces. For instance, long distance truck drivers often park by the roadside and sleep under their trucks near a fuel or police station for security reasons. We show the drivers how they can hang the net under the truck to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
Can you talk about the barriers to closing the gap between ownership and use of ITNs?
The project has developed behavior change interventions to increase use. For example, in the central region of Ghana, we’ve trained community health workers and midwives to serve as ITN champions. They model good ITN behavior and wear a badge that says, “I sleep under an ITN every night, and I recommend you do the same to protect yourself and your household.”
We also use posters to communicate the information. When communities meet, we ask influential leaders, such as the village chief, to promote positive ITN behavior among community members.
What has surprised you most about working with PMI VectorLink?
The level of dedication and passion that drives what we do as a project. I call it the VL work culture that ensures each employee is motivated to bring out his/her best. This culture also has room for creativity rather than micromanagement.
What impact have ITNs had in Ghana?
Ghana has seen tremendous decline in malaria morbidity and mortality. This can be attributed to multiple malaria prevention and control interventions, with the distribution of ITNs as a key intervention. ITNs provide a physical barrier so the mosquito can’t reach you. ITNs also repel mosquitoes and knock them down, which reduces the number of mosquitoes.
How has distribution changed with COVID-19?
We’ve had to make a lot of adjustments to the way we plan and implement malaria prevention activities. Key among these is the adoption of virtual trainings for regional and district level officers. During the implementation of the 2020 schools ITN distribution, training of regional and district officers was done virtually. We had to conduct in-person trainings for circuit officers with strict handwashing protocols and social distancing (2m apart). Additionally, masks were provided to all participants.
PMI VectorLink Study Finds New ITNs Effective Against Pyrethroid-Resistant Mosquitoes in Côte d’Ivoire
A new study conducted by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project found that new vector control tools, such as chlorfenapyr- and the synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO)-combination insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) may help to provide better protection against malaria in Côte d’Ivoire than those currently used.
Pyrethroid-treated mosquito nets are currently the mainstay of vector control in Côte d’Ivoire. As mosquitoes increasingly become resistant to all pyrethroid insecticides across the country and much of Africa, National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) are challenged with finding new ways to protect populations from malaria. This study, which was published in the Malaria Journal in December, demonstrated the relative increase in effectiveness observed when exposing the pyrethroid-resistant mosquitoes to either PBO in combination with pyrethroids or to chlorfenapyr. Both options represent avenues for many African country NMCPs to develop insecticide resistance management strategies. In Côte d’Ivoire, Interceptor® G2, a chlorfenapyr- and alpha-cypermethrin-based ITN could therefore be considered for a stratified distribution campaign in addition to PBO ITNs. The data gathered across the country within this study could also support the determination of the diagnostic concentration for testing the susceptibility status of An. gambiae s.l. against chlorfenapyr while the molecule is still being tested for appropriate concentrations in ITNs and IRS.