According to UNICEF “of all people who die from malaria in Zambia, 50 percent or more are children under 5 years of age; 50 percent of under-5 hospital admissions are due to malaria; Malaria accounts for 20 percent of maternal deaths”.
The complexity of malaria, a preventable and curable disease requires several interventions to ensure an environment free of malaria. For many years prevention measures have been implemented to save lives from this disease and notable among these measures has been the indoor residual spraying (IRS) of walls with insecticides.
In order to make IRS more effective in combating malaria, Akros, an organisation whose work is mainly open platform agnostic, with projects largely focused on improving national information systems, in health, WASH and education, with an emphasis on community level surveillance has developed the mSpray tool to improve IRS operations and available tools that could facilitate that vision.
Annie Martin, a Research Associate and Programme Manager at Akros said during the CIDRZ weekly research meeting that “our programmers have created a tool that integrates Google’s mapping technology with intelligent overlays, putting the data in the hands of everyone, helping to drive the virtuous data cycle forward. No longer do we need to send spray teams out to the far corners of the country with instructions, hoping the spraying is happening in the right places. Now we can send them with cellular-enabled tablets with maps showing them where they are and where the next house is they need to find and spray. And thanks to GPS location tagging, we can now see each house they visited and sprayed as they file their reports, right from the field. And all of the data comes back in real-time”.
She said mSpray was associated with a significant 15% reduction in confirmed case incidence due to better targeting and achieving overall higher household coverage compared to the programme without mSpray.
“While reported operational coverage estimates were higher for non-mSpray areas, the ratio of structures sprayed per population achieved was higher for mSpray areas, suggesting better actual coverage was achieved in these areas leading to greater impact. The use of the mSpray electronic Monitoring & Evaluation tool appears to improve the effectiveness of the IRS programme, likely through allowing for better targeting, better coverage, and less biased estimates of coverage”.