Malaria risk prediction in Afghanistan using remote sensing

Malaria risk prediction in Afghanistan using remote sensing

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Afghanistan: Malaria is a significant public health concern in Afghanistan. Currently, approximately 60% of the population, or nearly 14 million people, live in a malaria-endemic area. Afghanistan’s diverse landscape and terrain contributes to the heterogeneous malaria prevalence across the country.

According to researchers, provincial monthly malaria cases can be modelled and predicted using satellite-measured environmental parameters with reasonable accuracy. The Third Strategic Approach of the WHO EMRO Malaria Control and Elimination Plan is aimed to develop a cost-effective surveillance system that includes forecasting, early warning and detection.

Researchers used provincial malaria epidemiological data (2004-2007) collected by the health posts in 23 provinces and applied in conjunction with space-borne observations from NASA satellites. Specifically, the environmental variables, including precipitation, temperature and vegetation index measured by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectoradiometer, were used. Regression techniques were employed to model malaria cases as a function of environmental predictors.

The resulting model was used for predicting malaria risks in Afghanistan. The entire time series except the last 6 months is used for training and the last 6-month data is used for prediction and validation.

Vegetation index of the result reflected the fact that irrigation is the main factor that promotes malaria transmission in Afghanistan. Surface temperature is the second strongest predictor. Precipitation is not shown as a significant predictor, as it may not directly lead to higher larval population.

Source: Malaria Journal