mSpray: A mobile phone technology to improve malaria control efforts and monitor human exposure to malaria control pesticides in Limpopo, South Africa
Lipsitt, Jonah M.
Wua, Lemuel D.
Burns Nawn, John
Eskenazi B, Quiros-Alcala L, Lipsitt JM, Wu LD, Kruger P, Ntimbane T, et al. mSpray: a mobile phone technology to improve malaria control efforts and monitor human exposure to malaria control pesticides in Limpopo, South Africa. Environment International. 2014;68:219-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2014.03.003
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Recent estimates indicate that malaria has led to over half a million deaths worldwide, mostly to African children. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) of insecticides is one of the primary vector control interventions. However, current reporting systems do not obtain precise location of IRS events in relation to malaria cases, which poses challenges for effective and efficient malaria control. This information is also critical to avoid unnecessary human exposure to IRS insecticides. We developed and piloted a mobile-based application (mSpray) to collect comprehensive information on IRS spray events. We assessed the utility, acceptability and feasibility of using mSpray to gather improved homestead- and chemical-level IRS coverage data. We installed mSpray on 10 cell phones with data bundles, and pilot tested it with 13 users in Limpopo, South Africa. Users completed basic information (number of rooms/shelters sprayed; chemical used, etc.) on spray events. Upon submission, this information as well as geographic positioning system coordinates and time/date stamp were uploaded to a Google Drive Spreadsheet to be viewed in real time. We administered questionnaires, conducted focus groups, and interviewed key informants to evaluate the utility of the app. The low-cost, cell phone-based “mSpray” app was learned quickly by users, well accepted and preferred to the current paper-based method. We recorded 2865 entries (99.1% had a GPS accuracy of 20 m or less) and identified areas of improvement including increased battery life. We also identified a number of logistic and user problems (e.g., cost of cell phones and cellular bundles, battery life, obtaining accurate GPS measures, user errors, etc.) that would need to be overcome before full deployment. Use of cell phone technology could increase the efficiency of IRS malaria control efforts by mapping spray events in relation to malaria cases, resulting in more judicious use of chemicals that are potentially harmful to humans and the environment.