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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid