Winning the Fight Against Malaria in Uganda

A spray operator leaves for a day of work in the community, carrying her spray pump on the back of her bike
February 10, 2015

How do you define a successful malaria prevention project? One that achieves a 60% decrease in malaria cases? A 75% decrease? 80%?

What if I told you that a malaria prevention project in Uganda has achieved decreases over 90% in new cases, in some of the highest transmission areas in all of Africa? The Uganda Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) project has done just that, saving lives in hundreds of communities throughout Northern Uganda. This project, funded by USAID and implemented by Abt Associates, utilizes an insecticide sprayed on the interior walls of people’s homes which has been specially developed to kill the mosquitoes that spread malaria. In order to be effective, at least 85% of houses in a community must be sprayed in order to kill mosquitoes as they enter homes at night, alighting on the walls and waiting to feed.

When implemented correctly, IRS (combined with consistent use of bed nets) has a profound impact on malaria transmission. In fact, the method has a long history of effective malaria prevention. It was used to help eradicate malaria in the southern United States in the 1940s, and has been used with great success in Italy, Sri Lanka, Zambia, and a number of other African countries. Careful measures are taken to prevent environmental contamination from the pesticide and to keep families and communities that are receiving IRS safe.  

Malaria cases have declined from more than 40,000 to less than 3,000 per year.
This is a 93% reduction from the time of the first IRS treatment in 2009 to 2014.

So, what is EnCompass’ role in this project? IRS is a very technical process in which each member of the team must be well-trained and understand their unique role--from the spray operators who apply the insecticides to interior walls in homes, to the IRS mobilizers who educate their community on the benefits of IRS, to environmental compliance officers responsible for oversight of staff and community protective measures, to the store keepers responsible for insecticide inventories and data collection. EnCompass helped to facilitate this process by developing five facilitator guides and an IRS technical guide for use in training the IRS teams in their various technical, supervisory, environmental protection, and community mobilizing functions.

This year, as a follow on to the curriculum design, the project identified the need for a job aid providing key information and reminders to support IRS teams and staff working in the field. These materials, also designed and developed by EnCompass, have taken the form of six pocket-sized reference guides to be used by IRS teams in the field. We identified the critical content for each of the guides through field interviews with IRS project staff and end users in Gulu, Uganda, based on their experiences working on the project. Through these interviews, we were able to pinpoint common technique and data collection errors and identify the most crucial information needed for success. The most salient information and tips were then distilled into the pocket guides, and incorporated text, photos, and illustrations for audiences with mixed abilities in English. The guides will be printed and distributed to IRS staff to support their work in local communities as the project expands to several new districts in the east of the Uganda.

We look forward to continued collaboration with Abt Associates and to supporting the success of USAID-funded malaria projects across the African continent under the new, expanded Africa IRS II program.

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About the Author

Christy Grimsley brings 21 years of experience in facilitation, training, curricula development...

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