The use of remotely sensed environmental data in the study of malaria

Extract of Geospatial Health 5(2), 2011, pp. 151-168

Vanessa Machault [1]  [2]  [3] Cécile Vignolles [3], François Borchi [4], Penelope Vounatsou [5], Frédéric Pages[1], Sébastien Briolant[1], Jean-Pierre Lacaux[2], Christophe Rogier[1], [6]

Corresponding author: Vanessa Machault Tel: +33 5 61 33 27 22 Fax: + 33 5 61 33 27 90 Email: vanessamachault at


Mapping and anticipating risk is a major issue in the fight against malaria, a disease causing an estimated one million deaths each year. Approximately half the world’s population is at risk and it is of prime importance to evaluate the burden of malaria at the spatial as well as the temporal level. The role of the environment with regard to the determinants of transmission and burden of the disease are described followed by a discussion of special issues such as urban malaria, human population mapping and the detection of changes at the temporal scale. Risk maps at appropriate scales can provide valuable information for targeted control and the present review discusses the essentials of principles, methods, advantages and limitations of remote sensing along with a presentation of ecological, meteorological and climatologic data which rule the distribution of malaria. The panel of commonly used analytic methods is examined and the methodological limitations are highlighted. A review of the literature details the increasing interest in the use of remotely-sensed data in the study of malaria, by mapping or modeling several malariometric indices such as prevalence, morbidity and mortality, which are discussed with reference to vector breeding, vector density and entomological inoculation rate, estimates of which constitute the foundation for understanding endemicity and epidemics.

Keywords: malaria, urban malaria, indicators, environment, remote sensing, satellites, statistics

[1Département d’Infectiologie de Terrain – Equipe 7 “Maladies émergentes et moustiques” Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes – URMITE – UMR6236, Institut de Recherche Biomédicale des Armées, Allée du Médecin Colonel Jamot, Parc du Pharo, BP 60109, 13262 Marseille cedex 07, France

[2Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, Laboratoire d’Aérologie, Centre National de le Recherche Scientifique, Université Paul Sabatier, 14 avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France

[3Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales - Service Applications et Valorisation - 18 avenue Edouard Belin, 31401 Toulouse Cedex 9, France

[4METEO-France, Direction de la Climatologie, 42 Avenue Gaspard Coriolis, 31100 Toulouse, France

[5Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Swiss Tropical Institute, PO Box, 4002 Basel, Switzerland

[6Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, B.P. 1274, Ambatofotsikely, 101 Antananarivo, Madagascar.

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