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Myanmar to Adopt NASA Technology to Predict Malaria Amid Rising Cases

Representative image. (Image: Reuters)

Representative image. (Image: Reuters)

Figures presented by World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that Malaria cases and deaths in Myanmar dropped by more than 90 percent between 2010 and 2017.

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NASA is all set to come up with a new technique to forecast malaria outbreak in Myanmar. As the emergence of new drug-resistant strains in Southeast Asia threatens the previous efforts made to wipe out the mosquito-borne disease, scientists are investing their time trying to figure out a new plan of action. According to a report by The Lancet, the goal of worldwide malaria eradication within a generation by the year 2050 is “bold but attainable”.

Figures presented by World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that Malaria cases and deaths in Myanmar dropped by more than 90 percent between 2010 and 2017.

While WHO credited the success to better rural health services and wider use of treated bed nets, the country continues to have a higher prevalence than the Mekong region, The Thaiger reported.

With several drug-resistant strains taking hold across Southeast Asia, health experts fear that these could migrate to Africa. It’s is important to consider that according to global statistics, about 90 percent of Malaria cases occur in Africa.

In an attempt to counter this threat, NASA is installing a “Cutting edge” special technology to prevent any kind of Malaria outbreak that might take place in future, AFP quoted scientist Tatiana Loboda as saying.

The scientists are applying their expertise in geo-spatial and risk modeling to identify potential hotspots in the country. The findings would help them to mobilise health workers in advance.

“A lot of people use a little spatial modelling… but not to the same depth and capabilities as we’re doing here,” Loboda asserted.

As part of this project, satellites will provide meteorological data, including land surface temperatures, atmospheric water content and information about land cover, including forest, shrubland, settlements or water.

According to various unproven theories, these areas are known to house a disproportionate number of migrant or seasonal workers, who bring with them new strains of the parasite.

While the Maryland University team is working closely with local government and military scientists to collect data from civilians and troops, the country’s armed force, which keeps their operation shrouded, poses a constant challenge. Furthermore, geopolitics is another hurdle in the process as the state of US-Myanmar relations can complicate meetings with the military in the capital Naypyidaw.
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