Scientists are teaming up to use satellite data to target deadly parasites
to help predict patterns of parasitic diseases such as malaria, worms and
Project leader Professor Archie Clements, from The Australian National
University, said the research could help authorities in developing countries
fight parasitic diseases.
"Some diseases are highly sensitive to their environment, especially
parasitic diseases. With remote sensing you can identify places where disease
flourishes," said Professor Clements, Director of the ANU Research School
of Population Health.
"This information is useful for decision makers to help them ensure
scarce resources are targeted to where they are most needed."
Parasitic diseases affect hundreds of millions of people every year, many of
them in the least developed parts of the world.
The team uses satellite data such as temperature, rainfall, vegetation and
land usage, and combines it with health data in a geographical information
The approach combines the skills of many scientists, such as entomologists,
epidemiologists, software developers, social scientists and health policy
"The result is maps that are accessible to countries with limited
capacity for managing disease data, tailored to their local needs."
The team has trialed systems for malaria in Bhutan, Vanuatu and the Solomon
Islands and is now seeking support to scale up to larger countries.
Additionally, spatial predictions for other diseases such as worms and hydatids
are being developed for China, the Philippines and other countries in the
"By taking this research the next step, we have the opportunity to have
a meaningful impact on the real world, and save a lot of lives," Professor
Professor Clements is laying out a plan for the future of these systems at a
symposium at the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Conference, in San Jose, California this weekend.