News / Health

Computer Simulation Could Help Curb Spread of Malaria

Real-world data used to create mathematical model

Sophisticated mathematical modeling could assist health planners in the fight against malaria.
Sophisticated mathematical modeling could assist health planners in the fight against malaria.

Multimedia

Audio
Rose Hoban

The ancient disease of malaria continues to be a scourge that sickens millions worldwide annually.  

There are many ways to stop the spread of the disease.

You can kill the mosquitoes that spread it with insecticide, or you can treat the people who have it with drugs, or you can prevent mosquitoes from biting you by sleeping under an insecticide treated bed net.

But what's the most effective way for a cash-strapped country or province to control malaria for the most people, at the least cost?

Policy makers and researchers continue to look for ways to maximize the impact of control campaigns, while minimizing the cost. One way to determine which strategies work best is through sophisticated mathematical modeling - such as those created by Azra Ghani.

Ghani is an infectious disease epidemiologist at Imperial College London. She has spent years creating computer simulations devised to help health system planners curb the spread infectious diseases. Ghani says the same can be done with malaria.

"What we are particularly interested in looking at is trying to combine these different interventions that we know are now taking place and say, 'If we put bed nets in at a certain coverage, or if we instead decide to spray houses, how will that reduce transmission?'"

Ghani and her colleagues used real-world data about malaria to create such a mathematical model.

The data showed that, in areas where transmission of the disease from person to person was low, simply using insecticide treated bed nets was enough to reduce the number of people with malaria to only a few.

However, in areas with high rates of disease, there must be more interventions and more concerted efforts to just reduce the number of people with malaria.

"Obviously there are limited costs and one of the very important messages is that these interventions aren't just something that we can put in for a year or even five years, hope to see results and then stop doing," Ghani says. "They need very long-term commitment. Any of the programs that we looked at to have a really big effect… really needed to be in effect 15, 20 years or more."

In addition to modeling which interventions work for different places, Ghani created a computer program that can be easily used by policymakers in different countries.  

"And people that are planning the control programs can go in and say, 'Well, what if I put in 80 percent coverage of bed nets?'" Ghani says. "And this intervention and that intervention together, what impact will I have? So, it can be generalized for those policymakers."

Ghani says this type of tool can help public health officials make the best decisions to control malaria - for their particular situation - over the long run.

The paper, and access to a downloadable computer program, are available at the online journal, PLoS Medicine.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs