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High-tech maps to help fight malaria with greater precision

A new spatial and temporal modeling study captures the evolution of malaria incidence by region from 2000 to 2017 using higher-resolution maps. The findings will help decision-makers to identify with great precision the most critical regions, improving resource allocation, program planning and implementation, and monitoring initiatives. The research focused on malaria cases caused by the Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) parasite, the most virulent type of the disease, which is mainly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In contrast with previous maps focused on a single year, this one enables a more accurate analysis of malaria incidence worldwide. This is another example of how innovation and technology can contribute to controlling the disease. Scientists also called attention to the increasing challenges they faced, from political instability to increasing resistance to insecticides and antimalaria drugs.

The study was led by the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP) in collaboration with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust were funders. The results were combined with the findings of another study published separately about Plasmodium vivax – a type of malaria more geographically widespread but not the leading cause of malaria deaths. Together they form the malaria estimates for the Global Burden of Disease 2017 study.

More information can be found at ScienceDaily and the IHME’s website. The full study about Plasmodium falciparum is available at The Lancet and for data visualization visit here.

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