The program uses integrated monitoring and management systems to make rational decisions on how to best use resources to control vectors. The process will help improve on the efficiency, cost effectiveness, and sustainability vector control programs. Some of the strategies that the initiative has employed include advocacy, legislation and social mobilization. The program also collaborates with the health sector and other relevant partners to exercise for vector control. Importantly, the initiative relies on an integrated approach that involves evidence-based decision making and capacity building.
The evaluation and assessment of the Houston Mosquito and Vector Control is important in ensuring the success of similar integrated vector management strategies. By carrying out evaluation and assessment, it will help guide the planning and the implementation of the strategy. It also helps assess the effectiveness of the program with the view of helping identify how it can be improved, or if all resources utilized are accounted for. Basically, the process is more of a feedback mechanism for the organization.
There are a number of functions that need to be carried out during monitoring and evaluation. Normally, during such a process, data is collected routinely and reports are made to determine the progress made in the implementation of the program. In this case, the Houston Mosquito and Vector Control is monitored by the utilization of inputs and the expected outcomes and impacts. Other than that, the evaluation entails an arduous assessment of the influences that can be attributed to the program and which can demonstrate its value to the local community. In this case, evaluation links the impacts of the initiative to the program; in brief, it is a validation for carrying out the intervention (Onipchenko, 2004).
There are a number of challenges the vector control program faces when it comes to monitoring and evaluation. One major problem is the identification of valid indicators that can be measured empirically and methodically, especially in a complex field like integrated vector management. The program requires systematic data so as to measure the progress or impacts of vector control mechanisms as well as making cross-sectional comparisons. Some of the indicators that can be used for the monitoring process are the percentage of individuals affected by vector-borne diseases. Besides, other logical indicators such as the presence or absence of mosquitoes in the area can also be relied upon. It is vital to note that some changes and processes are descriptive and cannot be measured quantitatively. For that reason, descriptive indicators help the initiative to comprehend the causes and reasons behind the observed impact. As a result, the program has used both quantitative and descriptive indicators to carry out effective assessment and evaluation.
Some of the descriptive indicators that the Houston Mosquito and Vector Control utilized include whether people and pets bitten by a mosquito felt itchy on their skins. Another indicator was on whether there was reduced outdoor activity in the area due to a high presence of mosquitos. Another indication used in the assessment was the occurrence of annoying mosquito activity at the home and rear entries to residents’ homes. The assessment and evaluation is done based on the analysis and inspection of a property by a certified pest control technician who will help in identifying adult mosquito resting sites as well as breeding areas.
There are a number of strengths and weaknesses in the Houston Mosquito and Vector Control’s approach. One major challenge that the program experienced was the occasional conflict of priorities that interrupted its ability to dedicate enough time to one problem. The challenge was discussed with management and a solution to this was devised to try and break the interruption cycle. The realization was that the program needs to be more proactive than reactive in order to get ahead of these problems. By constantly improving the program, the management has bought enough time to solve more problems that will come up in the future (Matthews, 2011).
A major strength of the program was the identification of one sizably vulnerable population in the Houston area which is tourists. Notably, this is an important finding since tourists are a population that the local community hardly focusses on yet they are impacted on greatly. The city receives several visitors throughout the year who are normally infected by vector-borne diseases. Therefore, this is an important finding since, previously, these individuals were overlooked despite the fact that they formed a significant number of those affected by mosquitoes in Houston.
The assessment and evaluation of the vector control program can be improved through a number of ways. One way of improving the program is altering the manner in which the initiative conducts its outreach efforts. By altering the outreach program, there will be a reduction in the number of people affected negatively by mosquitoes. With time, this will also heighten the awareness on mosquito borne diseases. Another way of improving the program is by forming partnerships with relevant organizations throughout the city. By working together and sharing information with agencies such as the Medical Reserve Corps, the program can improve on its readiness response and voluntary work. Partnerships will also help in sharing work responsibilities thus making the delivery of services efficient (American Mosquito Control Association., & Eastern Association of Mosquito Control Workers, 1941).
American Mosquito Control Association., & Eastern Association of Mosquito Control Workers (U.S.). (1941). Mosquito news. Albany, N.Y.: Eastern Association of Mosquito Control Workers.
Matthews, G. A. (2011). Integrated vector management: Controlling vectors of malaria and other insect vector borne diseases. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Onipchenko, V. G. (2004). Alpine ecosystems in the northwest Caucasus. Dordrecht: Kluwer