Kenya and Britain Researchers have started creating an online global map called as 'Malaria Atlas Project', which aims to help fight malaria by exactly highlighting the areas where the disease is most likely to strike. Oxford University and the Kenyan Medical Research Institute are supporting the project.
It is reported that every year around 300 million people contract malaria and nearly 40 per cent of the world's population is at risk of developing the disease. In sub-Saharan Africa more than 1 million die from the disease, most of them being young children.
Researchers are hoping that the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP) will eventually lead to more effective methods of preventing the disease and coincide with a renewed global effort for developing malaria vaccine. This MAP which helps in identifying locations where malaria is most likely to strike, is being planned collecting data from various sources like parasite surveys, population censuses and satellite information. So the scientists will also use statistical approaches to project expected disease patterns for areas where information on rates of infection are unreliable.
The first version of the map is expected to be ready by 12 to 18 months and researchers say that people will be able to see the map on the Internet as it evolves. The release date for the fully completed malaria map is set for 2009.
'You can access them [two ways], through kind of just image maps that you would download. Or you can download a special file which you can open through Google Earth and you can zoom into your country or your area of interest and see where the parasite rate surveys have been done,' said Dr. Simon Hay of Malaria Atlas Project.