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Geospatial tech aiding Swaziland in Malaria eradication

Swaziland: Using geospatial technologies, Dr Simon Kunene, under the Swaziland National Malaria Control Programmes (SNMCP), is close to eradicating Malaria from the country. For this meticulous effort, London-based Health Engagement Strategy, a subsidiary of the Creation Interactive Ltd. which coordinates leadership and communication strategies in worldwide healthcare provision, honoured Dr Simon Kunene with the Healthcare Engagement Strategy 2012 ‘Life Changer’ award. Dr. Kunene is also known by his nickname ‘Dokotela Wembuzulwane’.
“Using satellite images, we have captured all the breeding sites for mosquitoes. So, we look at how far is a malaria case from a breeding site and we continue to improve our understanding of environmental variables,” Dr. Kunene told the awards panel.
Working with other government departments and external partners, Dr. Kunene’s SNMCP is now developing an early warning system that will highlight areas at risk of a malaria epidemic. The Swaziland Meteorological Services provides rainfall, temperature and humidity data which are then mapped against information about vegetation and land use.
Dr Kunene conceded that changes in land use can affect the epidemic risk, noting that if a new irrigation scheme has been started, it introduces water in a previously dry area. Furthermore, land use is also very important because it also influences the population movement in search of employment opportunities. He then observed that among the challenges faced in implementing the programme was that of technical integration with multiple government departments. 
“While the SNMCP uses the latest GIS technology, other departments lagged behind. But we are influencing the whole public health sector in the country now showing them that GIS was the way to go,” observed Dr. Kunene.
Right now, his model of malaria elimination is being emulated by many countries in the continent after its glowing endorsement by the Global Fund, which also supports the SNMCP.  After all, malaria is among the deadliest diseases in the sub-Saharan region ranking closely to HIV and AIDS and Tuberculosis.
Source: www.observer.org.sz