Healthcare, Human Security, Urban and Local Needs

Zzapp Malaria’s malaria eradication platform has the potential to save 627,000 lives a year



  • Founded in 2016
  • Funding total: $4 million; most recently won $3 million from the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE in 2021
  • Revenue growth from 2020 to 2021: 50%
  • Investors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, Sight
  • HQ: Tel Aviv
  • FTEs: 1-10
  • Key clients/partners: the governments of Kenya, Zanzibar, and São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Key executives: Arnon Houri-Yafin, co-founder and CEO: formerly lecturer in statistics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Michael Ben Aharon, VP of Partnerships and Growth: political risk consultant for public and private sector leaders 


According to the World Health Organisation, more than 627,000 people died of malaria in 2019. While nearly half the world’s population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission, approximately 97% of those deaths were in Africa. Malaria takes an economic toll as well. Direct annual costs (e.g., illness, treatment, premature death) have been estimated at a minimum of $12 billion. 

Zzapp Malaria has developed a software platform that helps inform malaria elimination strategies. Their app, which can work offline, analyses satellite images and topographical maps using artificial intelligence to determine malaria transmission hotspots. It then optimises malaria elimination strategies in these locations. These initiatives typically involve using a chemical spray to control the mosquito population, which is responsible for spreading malaria.

The company calls their algorithms “AI with mud on its boots” because the platform works in tandem with experts on the ground. However, the usefulness of the platform extends from out in the field to in the lab. In collaboration with Zzapp, data scientists from IBM have developed a weather analysis model that allows for users to better time interventions and determine the resources required to implement them.

plans for 2022

Complete the malaria elimination operation they launched in the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe.

who should connect with this company

Governments looking to eradicate malaria, and international organisations interested in helping.

case study

In 2020, Zzapp launched an anti-malaria initiative in the city of Obuasi, Ghana (population: 200,000). They worked in collaboration with malaria control company AGAMal, which uses an insecticide to control mosquito populations. AGAMal leveraged Zzapp’s GPS-enabled mobile app to guide one group of technicians towards mosquito breeding sites, while another group did not use the app. The group that used Zzapp detected 28% more bodies of water (major breeding sites) than the non-Zzapp group. Additionally, AGAMal cut their house spraying operations by 20% by using Zzapp’s platform to digitise data entry. Collectively, Zzapp’s tools lead to a more efficient deployment of resources and a large reduction of the mosquito population. Previously, AGAMal had vetted Zzapp through a randomised, controlled trial that validated the platform.

Key facts and figures

60% reduction in mosquitos

20% reduction in spraying operation time

90% increase in coverage (areas sprayed that wouldn’t have been sprayed without the app), including 28% more water bodies

$0.20: cost of the operation per person protected, compared to $5 for traditional house spraying

stateup view

Zzapp Malaria has developed a tool that is saving lives. Zzapp Malaria’s approach is community-based rather than focused on the individual. This ensures that anyone in the area would plausibly benefit, regardless of their economic status or access to health facilities. Importantly, this innovation did not take place in a silo, but rather by deploying and iterating on the platform and approach alongside community partners. Zzapp Malaria’s founders note additional externalities too: their app reportedly increases local employment since Zzapp Malaria’s campaigns employ twice the number of people with the same budget as other methods.

Unlike other companies working in the malaria eradication space, Zzapp is an entirely digital platform that works offline and is available to most smartphone users. This makes Zzapp more accessible than other mosquito controlling solutions, which require investment in physical products. For developing contexts – Zzapp’s primary market, where the need is most acute – acquiring physical products is not as viable an option as downloading an app.

Zzapp Malaria has won two prestigious prizes: the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2021 ($250,000) and IBM Watson XPRIZE AI for Good ($3,000,000). This funding puts Zzapp in a strong position to continue refining its tool for different contexts and scaling to help to eradicate malaria on a global scale.


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