Mapping malaria outbreaks in Africa

Staff at the Kenya Medical Research Institute
Public health staff at the Kenya Medical Research Institute

An app mapping the extent of malaria in Africa has been developed by statisticians at Lancaster University who have trained health officials in eight countries.

Staff from the Ministries of Health in Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ghana, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Uganda attended the workshop at the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Nairobi.

They learned how to use the app which allows their National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCPs) to upload a new dataset on malaria prevalence.

This contains information on sampled individuals at randomly chosen villages within a country, such as how many people were tested and how many were positive for malaria.

This is then integrated with baseline data collected in Africa since 2000.

Dr Emanuele Giorgi from CHICAS at Lancaster Medical School developed the geostatistical model used on the app.

“This generates an updated map of malaria risk for any desired year. This app will be used by NMCPs to identify areas of high and low malaria transmission in order to adapt their control strategies in the most effective way.”

The workshop was delivered with the help of his PhD student Benjamin Amoah who gave sessions on the basics of geostatistical analysis and how to interpret uncertainty. 

He said: “The participants were excited to learn and to appreciate the statistics and mathematics that go into malaria mapping. Being equipped with the knowledge of how they themselves can map malaria in their respective countries using the R shinny app and how to interpret their results is something each participant was happy about. The participants are looking forward to training their other colleagues in their respective NMCPs when they get back to their countries."

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