Mapping Malaria in Africa

This article describes an innovative approach to using ICT for development initiatives. Malaria remains one of the deadliest diseases on the planet with a great deal of malaria cases occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.In order to track and prevent the disease, it is necessary to know where people live. Though this sounds simple, it is harder than one might think in Africa. A new project, the AfriPop Project, used cell phone records in Kenya to track popular travel routes between population centers, therefore mapping the location of almost 15 million people. The project then applied this map to a malaria transmission model to reveal how malaria is likely to spread in Kenya. The use of cell-phones, rather than GPS, surveys, and traffic flow data, provided exponentially more data, making the transmission model much more effective and powerful. This technique maximized very limited resources in order to help prevent the transmission of malaria in Kenya.

How could this technique be replicated in other countries? In what fields, other than disease transmission, might it be applicable? What are potential drawbacks of this approach?

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About AmeliaConrad

Hi! I'm a senior at Tulane University studying International Relations, International Development, and Spanish. I'm passionate about a lot of things and my current activities include the following: serving as a Fall Fellow for the Obama campaign, president of the Tulane chapter of RESULTS, vice president of Women in Politics, and co-chair of the Leadership Conference for Middle School Girls for Mortarboard; working as a resident advisor at Tulane; and interning at Save the Children! I'm really excited to pursue all of these opportunities this year. View all posts by AmeliaConrad

4 responses to “Mapping Malaria in Africa

  • dtindall8

    I think this article describes an innovative, but not too ambitious solution to solving a real problem. In many developed countries, the idea that the government would be unable to figure out where exactly its citizens lived would be preposterous. In the least developed areas of Africa on the other hand, this is a legitimate issue. I think that this issue of locating the populous in order to map, track and prevent the spread of malaria is something that many donors may not realize is a challenge. A potential donor might say, “I would like to donate this many mosquito nets or this much malaria medication,” but if we don’t know where to send it then it will not be nearly as effective as it could be.

  • gwendroff

    this article does provide a new innovative approach to try an contain/stop the spread of malaria but I’m curious about some of the logistics of this program. Are there other factors that can contribute to the spread of malaria besides their routines/where they live, and if so are these other factors considered? And, does this initiative have to be done annually, and if so, are the costs of this program sustainable?

  • hfritchi

    I am interested to know the user response to this program regarding being “tracked” by researchers. While it is an incredible epidemiological approach, I feel like user reaction may be negative and an important aspect to consider in this intervention.

  • cobykg

    The increasing need to map epidemics and health demands has become apparent in developing countries. The use of geography information system (GIS) poses many challenges such as requirements of power sources, data storage, safe environments, technical support and high costs. However, GIS functionalities allow countries to map locations and collect essential data for their citizens. As GIS becomes more affordable and sustainable it will greatly benefit disaster relief programs and health management systems in the developing world.

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