AI for planning, executing, and monitoring of large-scale, cost-effective anti-malaria operations
First place ($3M) in the IBM Watson XPRIZE AI for Good competition, Cisco Global Problem Solver 2021, Google for Startups SDGs
Killing, every year, hundreds of thousands, sickening millions and greatly impeding developing economies, malaria is one of the worst problems in Africa. Nonetheless, malaria has been eliminated after successful operations in many countries, specifically, well resourced countries. A key method in these operations was thorough treatment of the water bodies in which mosquitoes breed. Such operations require significant investment, but completely resolve, rather than merely manage the problem. Zzapp Malaria developed an artificial intelligence-based system that enables the planning and execution of operations that are highly cost-effective even in Africa's most challenging conditions.
An artificial intelligence-based system for planning, executing, and monitoring of large-scale, cost-effective anti-malaria operations, focusing on urban areas.
Zzapp intentionally designed their artificial intelligence to include all communities, in all areas. For example their house-detection algorithm detects not only modern houses (prevalent, for example, in Ghana) but also traditionally built huts (prevalent, for instance, in Malawi). Zzapp works well both on less advanced smartphones and in areas with weak internet infrastructure and limited access to power sources. Furthermore, the app uses iconography in addition to text, to make it accessible to low-literacy audiences, and to maximize the efficiency of field workers. They have discovered that for many of their workers the app is a first-time encounter with digital technology, and that the training they receive from them is a significant source of empowerment for them in many additional areas. The app is very user-friendly, so that the average training, even of high-school graduates who lack technological literacy, takes no longer than a few hours. Furthermore, it works on inexpensive phones available in low-income countries, can work offline when in the field, and conserves battery life.
In 2022, in a pilot in districts with both urban and rural areas in São Tomé and Príncipe, covering more than 160,000 people, Zzapp had a reduction impact on mosquito population of 75% and on malaria cases of 53% for a cost that in urban and semi urban areas was $0.4 (twice as cost-effective as bed nets).
Zzapp is working, or has worked, in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Kenya, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Zzapp has been collaborating with leading academic and operational partners such as the ICIPE, KEMRI and The London School of Hygiene &Tropical Medicine and Goodbye Malaria. Zzapp aims to work with all countries where malaria is present.