AIRS expands to DRC and Burundi to maximize benefit of malaria programs

Entomologists collect mosquito larvae that will be used for testing in Ethiopia. Credit: AIRS Ethiopia.

Entomologists collect mosquito larvae that will be used to test the effectiveness of insecticide against local mosquito populations. Credit: AIRS Ethiopia.


Hovering in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo and buzzing through the hills of Burundi are malaria-transmitting mosquitoes looking for a blood meal. Luckily, some mosquitoes never reach their prey; they are blocked by mosquito nets treated with insecticide or knocked down by insecticide sprayed on the walls of homes. But how effective is the insecticide in nets at killing mosquitoes? Are most mosquitoes biting people while they are cooking dinner outside their hut or at bedtime when they are under the protection of a net?

In 2013, the Africa Indoor Residual Spraying project (AIRS) will begin working with country stakeholders in Burundi and DRC to answer these questions. By analyzing mosquito behavior and trends in mosquito density over several months, AIRS and partners are providing data that will enable implementers to maximize the impact of malaria prevention programs.

AIRS will train local entomologists to evaluate mosquito susceptibility to insecticide, identify the time and place of mosquito biting, and determine when mosquito density (and therefore malaria transmission) is highest. This entomological research will provide critical information for planning and implementation. For example, if a program implementer knows that mosquito density is highest in August, he can deploy community health workers in July to encourage people to sleep under a mosquito net.


Malaria is the number one cause of child mortality in Burundi. To prevent child deaths, AIRS will work in concert with staff from the government’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), training them to carry out entomological monitoring activities and establishing a functioning insectary. Using existing NMCP laboratory resources for training, local entomologists will develop skills to complete entomological monitoring independently, increasing the sustainability of malaria prevention programs and laying the ground work for data-driven malaria prevention programs.

Democratic Republic of Congo

In DRC, approximately 40 percent of deaths among children under five are caused by malaria. Although DRC is not currently using indoor residual spraying to prevent malaria, approximately 51% of households have at least one long lasting insecticide-treated net. To ensure that the nets are effective in preventing malaria, AIRS will test insecticides and analyze mosquito behavior.

AIRS will support a research institute affiliated with the University of Kinshasa to collect mosquitoes from diverse districts in DRC in order to have a representative sample of mosquitoes to study. Results from insecticide susceptibility tests, vector density analysis, and human landing catches (that identify if mosquitoes bite indoors or outdoors and at what time of night) will be shared with district governments to help them increase the effectiveness of malaria prevention programs.

Unlike the 14 other countries where we work, AIRS does not lead indoor residual spraying campaigns in Burundi or DRC.

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