World Malaria Month 2015: Using Technology to Make IRS in Zambia More Effective

IRS John_Esplana

Written by: Hannah Harrison, ZMC Communications Director

IRS John_Esplana

John Esplana, Peace Corps/Zambia Response Volunteer

Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) is one of the key interventions used in Zambia in the fight against malaria. John Esplana is a Peace Corps Response Volunteer that has played an instrumental role in rolling out and monitoring the implementation of this key malaria intervention in Zambia.

Indoor residual spraying (IRS) is the application of insecticide to the inside of dwellings, including the upper part of walls, where female anopheles mosquitoes like to rest. IRS kills mosquitoes when they come in contact with the treated services, preventing disease transmission. IRS must occur in at least 80% of houses in a targeted area for the intervention to have its maximum impact.

John first served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi from 2012-2014 and now works for the Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) project. The AIRS project is funded by the USAID-led President’s Malaria Initiative and implemented by Abt Associates to manage the IRS operations and logistics in 13 endemic countries. John works as a Monitoring & Evaluation Technical Specialist with AIRS. He provides direction, oversight, and technical assistance in the deployment and implementation of the mSpray® pilot project in Luapula Province, Zambia.

IRS - Spray operator surrounded by kids while collecting house hold data

Spray operator collecting household data.

John said, “A common problem with the IRS intervention is home-owners refusing to let their homes be sprayed or not being available when the spray technicians arrive.”

IRS Manager with mSpray field officer planning the day using mobile technology

IRS Manager with mSpray field officer planning the day using mobile technology

Spray® uses Android based tablets to collect GIS-integrated data directly from the field and is the first operationally tested tool that can provide data capable of approximating IRS impact at the population level. John helped train Program Officers and field staff on quality data management, use of mobile data collection tools and techniques, and M&E best practices.

Peace Corps Volunteers can help promote the IRS intervention by:

  • Educating their communities about the benefits of IRS;
  • Assisting Community Health Workers to conduct activities to accept the IRS program;
  • Engaging local religious and traditional leaders to improve sensitization about IRS efforts.
IRS - Team Leader using Android based tablet to record house hold data

IRS – Team Leader using Android based tablet to record house hold data