According to the study, satellites provide meteorological data; including land surface temperatures, atmospheric water content and information about land cover; including forest, shrubland, settlements or water. The initiative Malaria Evolution in South Asia; which was first funded in 2010 is one of 10 NIH-supported International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research, or ICEMRs.
Malaria cases and deaths plummeted by more than 90% in Myanmar between 2010 and 2017, World Health Organization (WHO) figures show, a success largely credited to better rural health services and wider use of treated bednets. But the country still has a higher prevalence than its neighbours in the Mekong region.
Several drug-resistant strains are taking hold across Southeast Asia and it is feared these could migrate to Africa where more than 90 percent of cases globally occur. To counter this threat, NASA is deploying “cutting edge” spatial technology to tackle malaria outbreaks before they happen, scientist Tatiana Loboda told AFP.
Initiative malaria outbreak
She is applying her expertise in geo-spatial and risk modelling coupling with a background in predicting wildfire outbreaks in the US to identify potential hotspots so medicines and health workers can be mobilised in advance. A lot of people use a little spatial modelling but not to the same depth and capabilities as we’re doing here.
The project is only in its third year but Loboda’s team; has already seen a high correlation between the rate of deforestation and the disease. One unproving theory is that these areas often dotting with logging sites, mines; and plantations are host to a disproportionate number of migrant or seasonal workers; bringing with them new strains of the parasite.
Immune to geopolitics
The Maryland University team is working closely with local government and military scientists, collecting data from civilians and troops respectively. But that brings challenges in a country where the armed forces keep their operations shrouded in mystery. We’re not allowing to ask where they go. This is coupling with a lack of access to Myanmar’s myriad conflict areas.
But the study working with big data,” Loboda bemoaned. “I want to blanket the whole country with random locations but I can’t. The project is not immune to geopolitics either. The state of US-Myanmar relations can complicate meetings with the military in the capital Naypyidaw. Sometimes I can go, sometimes I can’t