Malaria Map: New Tool for Malaria Control

Mapping out the enemy for a more effective attack

06 Dec 2006

Researchers from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the University of Oxford are mapping malaria risk worldwide. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Malaria Atlas Project, or MAP, will use information from satellites orbiting the Earth, population censuses, and other electronic forms of information to determine the presence of malaria mosquito vectors.

This will enable Professor Bob Snow and his MAP team at the KEMRI-University of Oxford-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme to identify populations at particular risk and predict the impact of the disease. More significantly, it will allow health resources and interventions to be targeted to areas most at risk.

“How we design malaria control and measure its impact depends on knowing how much malaria exists in a given area” said Professor Bob Snow, “like any war, knowing where your enemy is located and in what strength determines how you engage them.”

It is almost 40 years since the first global map of malaria risk and burden was created, but there were huge gaps in knowledge. Today, these gaps are beginning to be filled with a detailed MAP of malaria transmission. So far, MAP has assembled information from 3,126 communities in 79 countries and represents the single largest repository of contemporary information of malaria risk to-date.

Importantly, MAP has been developed with an open-access philosophy to the data it gathers, allowing researchers anywhere in the world to access the data for free.

“MMV welcomes this exciting new development. For too long have researchers and health workers relied on rough estimates and unvalidated models of the actual distribution of the disease. The Malaria Atlas Project will be a critical tool to gain real knowledge of the world’s malaria burden and enable us to target treatment to areas of greatest need,” said Dr Chris Hentschel, President and CEO of Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).

To ensure rapid uptake of drugs, MMV is preparing its access and distribution plans for the four new antimalarials expected to be available by the end of 2008. With the help of invaluable and accurate information gained from the Malaria Atlas Project on the impact of malaria, MMV’s plans to help distribute its drugs can be more targeted and global and national finances will be able to budget for these new interventions.

“The work of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership will benefit immensely from MAP. This is an enormously useful tool. It will greatly support our work in managing forecasts for prevention and treatment interventions. We can reduce the devastating impact of malaria on the world by knowing exactly where the disease does its worst,” said Dr Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Secretary of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and chairperson of MMV’s Access and Delivery Advisory Committee (ADAC).

About the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP)http://www.map.ox.ac.uk

The published paper is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030473

For more information on MAP please contact:

Professor Bob Snow
Head, Malaria Public Health & Epidemiology Group
Centre for Geographic Medicine
KEMRI-University of Oxford-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme
Kenyatta National Hospital Grounds (Behind NASCOP)
P.O. Box 43640 - 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 2715160 or 2720163 or 2719936
Fax: +254 20 2711673
Cell: +254 0722 523 323
E-mail: rsnow [at] nairobi.kemri-wellcome.org

Media contact person at MMV:
Jaya Banerji, MMV