Land Use and Land Cover as Driving Forces for Malaria Transmission – An Interdisciplinary Study Combining Geo and Health Sciences

Malaria is one of the world's most important infectious diseases and a major cause of mortality in West Africa. As malaria is a vector-borne disease transmitted by several species of Anopheles mosquitos, the identification of suitable vector habitats can help us to predict the prevalence of vectors and assess the malaria risk.

Mosquito habitats are defined by a complex set of ecological factors such as topography, hydrography, climate and land use pattern. Periodic changes of the spatial pattern of those factors show co-incidence with changes of habitat and density of disease-transmitting vectors and prevalence of infectious agents.

Several studies have proven that remote sensing data are a suitable tool for surveying spatio-temporal changes in various (vector) habitats. However, most existing studies have only used data from just one (or sometimes two) satellite sensors, resulting in limitations of spectral, spatial and temporal resolution of remote sensing images – and ultimately in a limited accuracy of disease transmission models.

In order to better understand the links between land use / land cover changes, vector density and malaria risk, we are planning to collect precise information on vector prevalence and malaria cases in Nouna District, Burkina Faso, an area of endemic malaria located in the Gondo Plains in north-western Burkina Faso. At the same time, we will survey vector habitats using remote sensing data from several satellite sensors and ground truth data. This will help us to come to an enhanced malaria prediction model and avoid some of the flaws of existing studies.

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