What is IRS?
Indoor residual spraying (IRS) is one of the world’s best tools in fighting malaria. Insecticides are sprayed on household walls, killing mosquitoes that spread malaria. Stop the mosquito, stop malaria.
What is Akros doing about it?
IRS is a delicate process and extremely expensive. If it’s not done the right way, it won’t work. So what does it mean to do it “the right way”? Above all, IRS needs to be applied to a very specific set of households at a very specific time. But for the past several years, most IRS programs don’t even have access to maps showing which households need to be sprayed.
That’s why we created mSpray, a revolutionary tool that incorporates three processes to achieve the maximum impact for your IRS dollars. (Note: In 2019, Akros received development funding to expand the tool and rebrand mSpray as ‘Reveal‘.) Keep reading to find out more about mSpray.
Bill Gates references mSpray™ at the Malaria Summit in London in 2018.
The mSpray System
THREE PARTS OF A GREATER WHOLE
Indoor residual spraying is one of our best tools in the fight towards malaria elimination. The spraying kills mosquitos and helps keep the disease from spreading. It’s not a cheap process, though. The insecticides and massive staffing required to make these campaigns effective are extremely costly, running many millions of dollars every year. In short, it’s not the sort of thing you want to do inefficiently.
We need to ensure that the right insecticides are sprayed in the right amounts in the right households. That’s why Akros created mSpray, a suite of tools that puts IRS campaigns into efficiency overdrive. We need to stop thinking about the aspects of IRS as separate entities and recognize that, to be effective, we must do three things really well: Enumeration, Targeting, and the Spraying itself. Read on to learn more about how each of these aspects can greatly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of an IRS campaign in your region.
This is where it all begins. We need to know where the household structures are before we can accurately asses things like population density. What’s more, when the spray teams do go out, they need to be able to find all of the structures in a given area. Traditionally, when enumeration was done at all, it was done on ground – on foot. Not surprisingly, this was an incredibly time consuming and costly process. We’ve learned that we can actually do a better job of enumeration from a desk with a high-speed internet connection. Using freely-available satellite imagery, mSpray enumerators can now do the same work more accurately and around 20 times more efficiently, based on our pilot test. Read below to learn where all that savings comes from.
Enumerating Staff Required
In the past, enumeration teams worked in large groups to be able to enumerate all the structures. The high efficiency of mSpray means that a single enumerator can do the job of a large team.
Not only is one enumerator doing the work of 10, she’s actually getting way more done. In just one day, a single enumerator working under the mSpray system can outline 1,500 structures. It used to take a team of ten 2.2 days to enumerate that many structures, meaning it took 22 per-person workdays. With mSpray, it takes just one.
Of course, getting a team out to the field is often rife with inefficiencies. The chart below shows how an on-the-ground enumeration team uses their 8-hour workday vs. how an mSpray enumerator uses hers.
Time is money – a statement that holds as true in enumeration as anywhere else. While the daily rate for a team of enumerators to be sent to the field is around $680, the rate for an mSpray enumerator is just $91. Bigger impact for less.
If we could spray everywhere, we would. It would work – spraying every household in a given catchment area would kill enough mosquitoes to create a huge impact. But for so many reasons, the “spray everything” approach is impractical. The costs would be astronomical, the manpower required impossible. What we can do is choose the right places to spray and be very thorough about being sure the spraying actually happens in those areas. Our team of Entomologists and infectious disease experts have created tools to be sure we’re using the right insecticides in the areas where they will have the greatest impact.
We can also target based on operational constraints. We know that spraying isolated houses or small groups of houses is unlikely to have much impact. By targeting groups of houses where operational efficiency is optimal, IRS impact can be maximized.
LAYERED RISK MAPS
By taking into account factors like water and land use, population density and elevation, we end up with an interpolated surface picture that shows us an area’s risk of transmission. This is an incredibly powerful statistic to have. No longer do we need to spray wherever we can afford until the money runs out, hoping it will make a difference. Now we can make an educated decision and know from the beginning of the spray season how much insecticide we will need, how much it will cost, and have an expected impact.
When it comes to the spraying itself, we have created the most efficient, streamlined, powerful tool for leading spray teams to the right spray locations and tracking that the spraying actually occurs.
EFFICIENT, STREAMLINED, POWERFUL
We have collaborated with the team at Ona to create 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.