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Malaria is highly sensitive to climatic variability, and since mosquitoes thrive in warm, moist environments, it is anticipated that global warming will have an impact on the spread of malaria across southern Africa.
Bilateral discussions between the University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC), and the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES, the French National Centre for Space Studies), have now culminated in an established programme, the Remote Sensing for Malaria Control in Africa (ReSMaCA) programme. The stakeholders of this initiative are the UP ISMC, CNES, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), South African Weather Service (SAWS), the Institute of Research
for Development (IRD, France) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Researchers from several South African, African, French, and other international tertiary and research institutions, will also contribute to this collaboration.
The programme is based on the use of remote sensing and satellite technologies to assist in malaria control. By monitoring epidemics and merging health data with environmental and climatic
data, researchers can identify conditions that are likely to promote and increase the prevalence of malaria in order to gain a better understanding
of the mechanisms involved in the spread of the disease. Increased cross-border movement of people between South Africa and its neighbouring countries, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, in particular, is a further area of concern, and is the focus of monitoring as the prevalence of malaria is high in these areas. Professor Riana Bornman (below left),
a senior research fellow in the School of Health Systems and Public Health, and a member of the UP ISMC, is closely involved in the programme. Her work on cross-border movement and the impact of malaria on South Africa is now incorporated in the ReSMaCA programme.
A good climate-modelling system for malaria is
an important tool for providing early warning on possible outbreaks and for studying the potential impact of future climate change on malaria. This will necessarily entail mathematical modelling and other data analytics technologies to investigate the impact of climate variability as well as other factors on malaria, to expand on the current predictive malaria- risk maps, and to develop early warning- and better surveillance systems.
        UP ISMC researchers with colleagues from CIRAD, France.
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