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Cost and quality of operational larviciding using drones and smartphone technology

Hardy, Andy, Haji, Khamis, Abbas, Faiza, Hassan, Juma, Ali, Abdullah, Yussuf, Yussuf, Cook, Jackie, Rosu, Laura, Houri-Yafin, Arnon, Vigodny, Arbel, Oakes, Gregory, Majambere, Silas and Worrall, Eve ORCID: (2023) 'Cost and quality of operational larviciding using drones and smartphone technology'. Malaria Journal, Vol 22, Issue 1, e286.

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Larval Source Management (LSM) is an important tool for malaria vector control and is recommended by WHO as a supplementary vector control measure. LSM has contributed in many successful attempts to eliminate the disease across the Globe. However, this approach is typically labour-intensive, largely due to the difficulties in locating and mapping potential malarial mosquito breeding sites. Previous studies have demonstrated the potential for drone imaging technology to map malaria vector breeding sites. However, key questions remain unanswered related to the use and cost of this technology within operational vector control.

Using Zanzibar (United Republic of Tanzania) as a demonstration site, a protocol was collaboratively designed that employs drones and smartphones for supporting operational LSM, termed the Spatial Intelligence System (SIS). SIS was evaluated over a four-month LSM programme by comparing key mapping accuracy indicators and relative costs (both mapping costs and intervention costs) against conventional ground-based methods. Additionally, malaria case incidence was compared between the SIS and conventional study areas, including an estimation of the incremental cost-effectiveness of switching from conventional to SIS larviciding.

The results demonstrate that the SIS approach is significantly more accurate than a conventional approach for mapping potential breeding sites: mean % correct per site: SIS = 60% (95% CI 32–88%, p = 0.02), conventional = 18% (95% CI − 3–39%). Whilst SIS cost more in the start-up phase, overall annualized costs were similar to the conventional approach, with a simulated cost per person protected per year of $3.69 ($0.32 to $15.12) for conventional and $3.94 ($0.342 to $16.27) for SIS larviciding. The main economic benefits were reduced labour costs associated with SIS in the pre-intervention baseline mapping of habitats. There was no difference in malaria case incidence between the three arms. Cost effectiveness analysis showed that SIS is likely to provide similar health benefits at similar costs compared to the conventional arm.

The use of drones and smartphones provides an improved means of mapping breeding sites for use in operational LSM. Furthermore, deploying this technology does not appear to be more costly than a conventional ground-based approach and, as such, may represent an important tool for Malaria Control Programmes that plan to implement LSM.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: W General Medicine. Health Professions > W 82 Biomedical technology (General)
QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 650 Insect vectors
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 750 Malaria
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Vector Biology Department
Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2023 08:32
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 15:08


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