i initiative

Space and Development…Increasing Access to Space in Africa

Dust, Dry Days and Disease in Africa 2

Posted by Simon Adebola on April 27, 2009

As a follow up to our earlier post with the same title, this focuses on the evidence to show that Malaria can be tracked using satellite data. Last week saturday was the World Malaria Day and it showed the renewed commitment by the global healthcare community to work towards the control of Malaria using the best scientific means available. The use of technologies such as Space Science and Technology, with the enhanced capabilities they provide for environmental monitoring towards disease prevention, certainly does have a role to play.

Aside from the work of the Group on Earth Observation and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society on monitoring the environmental correlates of Malaria epidemiology, there exist other promising intiatives, some of which are highlighted below.

The NASA Earth Observatory have an interesting article that discusses the experience of mapping Malaria risk in Belize. It highlights the issues faced and gives a preview of what needs to be understood about Malaria and its relationship to the environment and other socioeconomic factors that affect its spread.

NASA Earth Observatory

NASA Earth Observatory

The MARA/ARMA collaboration aims to produce spatial models showing malaria distribution, seasonality and endemicity.



The Kenya Medical Research Centre (KEMRI) have a collaboration with the Wellcome Trust. The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme sponsor the Malaria Atlas Project in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Zoology of the University of Oxford and other institutes. They study the effect of the environment and climate on malaria linking its endemicity to the different mosquito species causing malaria. They are at the forefront of interpreting the available spatial and epidemiological data in the predictive mapping of malaria to aid disease control and prevention initiatives. Their research publications are very useful resources in understanding the potential of mapping malaria. Their links section is similarly useful. Their map data showing global and country risks for malaria are available here.

Malaria Atlas Project (map.ox.ac.uk)

Malaria Atlas Project (map.ox.ac.uk)

These are but a few of the ongoing efforts to help map the epidemiology of Malaria and Meningitis, to better aid their prevention and control. Space technologies are still the mainstay of such efforts as they give, for example, a view of how dust affects land and sea temperature, sea temperature affects precipitation and drought events and how all these and other environmental and socio-economic factors pool together and contribute to defining the epidemiology of these diseases. These place spatial maps as an invaluable resource in the ongoing global fight against vector-borne and air-related diseases.

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