Utilizing NASA EOS to Improve Early Warning and Mitigation of Malaria in Ethiopia

Map of Ethiopia. Image Credit: DEVELOP

Image Credit: DEVELOP

Author: Caitlin Reid

Mentors/Advisers (affiliation): Dr. Pietro Ceccato (International Research Institute for Climate and Society), Dr. Madeleine Thompson (International Research Institute for Climate and Society)

Team Location: International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Palisades, New York

Abstract: In some countries, such as Ethiopia, malaria is highly sensitive to variations in the climate. In this context, climate information can either be used as a resource, for example in the development of early warning systems, or must be accounted for when estimating the impact of interventions. In Ethiopia, the determinants of malaria transmission are diverse and dynamic, but altitude (linked to temperature) is certainly a major limiting factor in the highland plateau region, and rainfall in the semi-arid areas. This project addressed this need by using MODIS Land Surface Temperature, Landsat and digital elevation models (DEM) data alongside epidemiological data on malaria cases collected by the Earth Institute-supported Center for National Health Development in Ethiopia (CNHDE) in East Shewa (Oromia Region), Ethiopia, between 1993 and 2007, based on extensive field-based studies conducted in close alignment with the Oromia Health Bureau and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health. This area is uniquely suited to the project’s objectives because it embraces a wide variety of epidemiological settings: mesoendemic and hypoendemic malaria transmission; urban and rural malaria; malaria associated with development projects that attract non-immune immigrant workers; and malaria-free areas. Moreover, the presence of both Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax malaria provides an opportunity to understand the dynamics of each parasite species. The research investigated how land surface temperature measured by MODIS can be used to estimate maximum and minimum air temperature and be linked with malaria incidences in Ethiopian highlands. The project also investigated how Landsat can detect water bodies which create the breeding sites for mosquitoes. Lastly, the research showed how DEM can be integrated to better map the risk of malaria related to elevation and temperature. Future work may involve how the work developed in East Shewa may be extended to other areas of Ethiopia, particularly other districts in Oromia for which we have epidemiological data, as well as other regions of the world where climate and environmental factors are important drivers of malaria transmission, such as Nepal.