A new study has recently found that combining of malaria genetic data with human mobility data from mobile networks can help to map and predict the spread of drug-resistant malaria.
The study was conducted by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Telenor Group, Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit and the National Malaria Elimination Programme in Bangladesh, said a press release.Combining epidemiological data, travel surveys, parasite genetic data, and anonymised mobile phone data, the study was able to measure the geographic spread of different types of malaria parasites in southeast Bangladesh, including drug-resistant mutations.
Data pointed to transmission from outside high-incidence areas and showed substantial transfer of parasites throughout the Chittagong Hill Tracts in southeast Bangladesh.
"Our combined method gave us detailed insight into the direction and intensity of parasite flow between locations," Hsiao-Han Chang, Research Associate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained to eLife Sciences, publisher of the study.
"The study proves that we have a potent weapon at our disposal in the fight against malaria - Big Data," says Kenth Engø-Monsen, Senior Research Scientist, Telenor Research.