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New global map shows where malaria could be better controlled, or eliminated

Page history last edited by Rosemary 8 years, 11 months ago


Using data from nearly 8000 local surveys of malaria parasite infection rates, an international team of researchers has built a global map showing the proportion of the population infected with the parasite Plasmodium falciparum at locations throughout the globe.

Published in this week's PLoS Medicine, the map shows that areas where a high proportion of residents are infected are common – but by no means uniform – in Africa, while lower prevalence levels are found in the Americas and Central and Southeast Asia, although pockets of intermediate and high transmission remain in some parts of Asia.

Malaria is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world; the P. falciparum parasite causes about 500 million cases each year, and about 40% of the world's population lives in areas where malaria is transmitted.

The team of researchers, led by Simon Hay from the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, shows that global malaria endemicity is substantially lower than would be predicted from inspection of historical maps. Nevertheless, their map indicates that, in 2007, almost 60% of the 2.4 billion people at any risk of malaria were living in areas where malaria is constantly present – 0.69 billion people in Central and South East Asia, 0.66 billion in Africa, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, and 0.04 billion in the Americas.

Part of the Malaria Atlas Project, the new map reflects the use of model-based geostatistics to incorporate data obtained across space and time. It provides an important new resource by indicating areas where malaria control can be improved, as well as areas where malaria elimination may be possible. Prior to this study, the most recent global map of P. falciparum endemicity was published in 1968 and suffered from a number of limitations, such as incomplete description of the input data used and lack of estimates for the uncertainty in its predictions. In contrast, because of the statistical methods used to construct the new map published in PLoS Medicine, it is possible to quantify the uncertainty in the results.

"The state of the P. falciparum malaria world in 2007 represents an enormous opportunity for the international community to act," say the authors. "This cartographic resource will help countries determine their needs and serve as a baseline to monitor and evaluate progress towards interventional goals."

Citation: Hay SI, Guerra CA, Gething PW, Patil AP, Tatem AJ, et al. (2009) A world malaria map: Plasmodium falciparum endemicity in 2007. PLoS Med 6(3): e1000048. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000048. The paper is also available in FrenchChinese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

This press release, from PLoS Medicine, was originally entitled Comprehensive map of global malaria endemicity -- a key resource for malaria control and elimination.

An animated map showing global P. faciparum endemicity for 2007 can be found on the MAP website.

A series of maps for each of the 87 countries for which Plasmodium falciparum is endemic, for three global regions, and for the entire world, can be found on the site. 

Each thumbnail map links to a high-resolution .pdf file showing one of four outputs of the recent global malaria mapping exercise detailed in Hay et al., 2009. The global versions of these maps are also available here as a .kmz file which can be freely downloaded and viewed using Google Earth.

"The ‘limits’ maps show the spatial limits of Plasmodium falciparum transmission and identify malaria free, unstable or stable transmission areas as well as showing the location and observed value of the parasite rate surveys that underpin this mapping exercise. The ‘mean’ maps show the predicted spatial distribution of Plasmodium falciparum malaria endemicity. The ‘uncertainty’ maps provide a continuous index of the model uncertainty associated with each predicted endemicity map, highlighting areas where sparse data have lead to lower accuracy. The ‘uncertainty class’ maps show this same index classified into regions of low, medium, and high uncertainty."


For other stories about malaria, see:

Hedge funds do business against malaria

Cross-border cooperation reduces malaria risk in southern Africa

Malaria Vaccine Initiative works to provide hope for saving lives

Sri Lanka is close to eliminating malaria as a deadly scourge

Ground-breaking malaria findings may aid drug, vaccine development

MalariaEngage hopes social networking will bring funds to African researchers

Cell phone can monitor HIV and malaria patients, test water quality

High speed computer networks kickstart new anti-malarial drug development

Mobile phones and FrontLineSMS help contain malaria in Cambodia

Mapping malaria risk in Africa leads to more effective malaria control

Health care by mobile phone helps parents save childrens’ lives in Congo

Leaders of Africa’s faith communities work together to prevent malaria deaths

Malaria's bitter pill made sweeter for children

Cheap and simple community-based measures save childrens' lives worldwide



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