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Global malaria map key weapon in fight against malaria, scientists say

Information on the global burden of malaria remains the subject of "best guesses," and as a result resource allocation for malaria control remains "driven by perceptions and politics, rather than an objective assessment of need," say two prominent malaria researchers in PLoS Medicine.

Simon Hay and Robert Snow (Kenya Medical Research Institute and University of Oxford), say that it has been almost 40 years since the last global map of malaria endemicity was constructed, and that "there have been no recent efforts to construct a credible evidence-based global malaria map."

To address this unmet need, researchers in Kenya and Oxford have launched the Malaria Atlas Project to develop the science of malaria cartography. In their PLoS Medicine paper, Hay and Snow discuss details and goals of the project, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the UK's largest biomedical research charity.

The map will be constructed using information from sources such as satellites and population censuses. Statistical approaches will enable comparisons to be made between areas where good information on malaria exists with areas where there is no information to fill in the "gaps" to create a global map of malaria risk worldwide.

"How we design malaria control and measure its impact depends on knowing how much malaria exists in a given area," says Professor Bob Snow. "Like any war, knowing where your enemy is located and in what strength determines how you engage them. Intelligence is key ?without an intelligent approach to global malaria control I fear there will be much wasted funding and many missed opportunities."

Source:Public Library of Science

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