Harnessing geospatial data to reduce malaria’s burden in Nigeria and the DRC

April 25, 2022

As COVID-19 continues to take its toll around the world, it is important to remember that other, longer-standing diseases also annually disrupt millions of lives. Among these is malaria, which infected 241 million people in 2020 and led to 627,000 deaths that year. Sub-Saharan Africa experiences the overwhelming share of malaria’s burden, with 95 percent of cases and 96 percent of deaths. 

Despite the many challenges that remain in eliminating the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, important progress has been made in providing communities the tools they need to prevent it. GRID3 has considerable experience with harnessing innovative geospatial solutions to reduce malaria’s effect on the region, and has recently extended its support to two campaigns in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Preparing to go into the field

In Nigeria, where according to the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) 97 percent of the population is at risk of contracting malaria, GRID3 is working with the NMEP to develop microplanning maps that will be used in a bednet distribution campaign in Kano State that will take place this June. 

“Microplanning” is a process that health workers use to optimally deploy resources—including vaccines and other health-related commodities—to ensure that vulnerable populations are reached during health campaigns. Maps are a crucial tool for the microplanning process, and GRID3 is currently helping to produce such maps for the upcoming Kano campaign. So far, GRID3 has matched its comprehensive list of settlements in Kano to the list of settlements the NMEP is aiming to cover by bednet distributors and has also compiled other existing geospatial data. All this information was used to produce initial versions of the microplanning maps, and GRID3 and NMEP have in turn trained fieldworkers in using the maps. When the campaign gets underway, bednet distributors will collect data on the settlements they visit; that data will be used to update the maps and continuously improve their quality.  

In the DRC, GRID3 has been coordinating with IMA World Health, the SANRU rural health programme, and the Programme National de Lutte contre le Paludisme (PNLP, the DRC Ministry of Public Health’s national malaria control programme) around bednet distribution campaigns. Specifically, GRID3 will 1) use geospatial data to identify which settlements are not reached during the first round of the campaign and 2) track whether bednets reach the communities for which they are intended during IMA’s upcoming distribution campaign in Kwilu Province. 

“Insecticide-treated bed nets are an effective solution for malaria prevention in both Nigeria and DRC,”

says Emily Boytinck, GRID3 Project Coordinator.

“Integrating geospatial data into planning and tracking these important distribution campaigns is a way to ensure that no communities are missed.”

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