Remy Hoek Spaans

After studying Health Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, I decided to move to the UK to pursue an MSc Control of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSTHM). 

For my MSc project, I conducted a Mosquito-Mark-Release-Recapture (MMRR) experiment within an urban area in Brazil for five weeks, in collaboration with the Fiocruz. I then worked for the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM unit in Uganda for 10 months, on the Lake Victoria Island Intervention Study on Worms and Allergy-related Diseases (LAVIISWA), where I was responsible for managing and analysing data from this cluster-randomized trial. I moved to the UK again to take part in the Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership (MRC-DTP) between Lancaster University and The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

For the first year of the MRC-DTP I was based in Lancaster to work on the MRes in Global Health: Translational and Quantitative Skills. During this year, I became more confident using R to apply a variety of quantitative methods, including geostatistics and mathematical modelling.  For my second rotation, I looked at spatial point processes of Anopheles mosquito presence in sub-Saharan Africa and spent two weeks at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Sweden. For my third rotation, I travelled to the UNICEF drone corridor in Malawi. The aim was to identify malaria breeding sites by analysing imagery of dams that we collected by flying a drone with a camera attached to it over the relevant area and by covering the same area with an entomological survey.

My PhD project will build on my experience in Malawi, with fieldwork taking place at a sugar plantation in the Chikwawa district. I will be working on an appraisal of entomological risk factors for malaria to guide targeted integrated vector control within the local community. The project will start by evaluating the benefits of the current strategy consisting of biannual Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) campaigns. Entomological, environmental and epidemiological malaria data will be combined and analysed to develop a spatially targeted strategy for integrated vector control. With the WHO target of malaria elimination by 2030, developing a locally adaptable approach to find the optimal combination of intervention strategies will become increasingly important, especially in resource-limited contexts.