|Above: Senior scientist Michael Wimberly, second from right, inspects mosquito breeding sites in the Amhara region of Ethiopia with researchers from SDSU and public health collaborators from the Health, Development and Anti-Malaria Association.|
Ethiopia: Through a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Michael Wimberly, senior scientist at the Geographic Information Science Centre of Excellence and a team of South Dakota scientists will combine environmental data gathered through earth-imaging satellites and surveillance data from public health professionals in the Amhara region of Ethiopia to anticipate malaria outbreaks.
This project will use a two-pronged approach. Predictive software tools will be used to combine massive online archives of environmental data from earth-imaging satellites with disease statistics from Ethiopian public health officials through collaboration with the Amhara Regional Health Bureau, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Health, Development and Anti-Malaria Association, a local nongovernmental organization.
“By tracking malaria cases as they occur, we can look for anomalies or spikes in the case data, indicators of a bigger epidemic or peak," Wimberly said. However, disease data alone doesn't provide much lead time for preventive measures.
Researchers have always shared their information with emergency management people, but Wimberly said, "Our idea is to combine environmental and disease data in an integrated system. Public health professionals to the table up front and they teach us what they need."
With this approach, the researchers hope to "come up with something more practical and usable than we've seen in the past." The collaboration will help emergency managers decide what they'll do if they have a six-, three- or even one-month lead time.
Source: South Dakota State University