Nairobi: Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa will begin using the latest technologies to map and collect data on the distribution of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) later this year. Officers running national NTD control programmes will be trained to use the latest mapping tools – including GIS,GPS and smart phones to create maps and collect data, to help with ‘practical control’ of diseases that continue to afflict millions of people on the continent.
National control programme officers will be trained in using the latest tools to locate these diseases, and collect and analyse data for cost effective control of NTDs. The five most common NTDs on the continent will be targeted: intestinal worms, trachoma, elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis), river blindness and bilharzia. The significance of using these technologies in mapping NTDs is to establish distributions, target treatment in need areas, estimate drug and resource requirements in affected populations and obtain clear information for monitoring and control purposes. Using satellite technologies to map diseases is the most effective way of capturing their distribution so as to target interventions. All the above mentioned diseases can be controlled with drugs, but only where good data and resources are available.