New maps show malaria around globe

New maps show the prevalence of malaria, one of Earth’s most deadly diseases, around the globe.

Mosquito-borne malaria is known to be widespread in tropical and subtropical areas, including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Today (January 23, 2012) a multinational team of researchers is presenting the results of a two-year effort to assemble all available data worldwide on the risk of Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the most deadly form of the disease. Their results include new malaria maps showing the current global pattern of the disease and letting researchers see how malaria has changed over a number of years.

Credit: Malaria Atlas Project, University of Oxford

The researchers are with the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), funded mainly by the Wellcome Trust, and their study is being published in the Malaria Journal.

They used computer modeling and data on climate and human populations to create their maps, which also built on the first-ever Atlas of Malaria-Eliminating Countries 2011published earlier in 2012.

According to Wikipedia:

… there were an estimated 225 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2009. An estimated 655,000 people died from malaria in 2010, a 5% decrease from the 781,000 who died in 2009 according to the World Health Organization’s 2011 World Malaria Report, accounting for 2.23% of deaths worldwide. Ninety percent of malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of deaths being young children.

This map shows P. falciparum malaria parasite prevalence among children in Africa. In low areas (blue) we might see one or two infected children out of every 100, while in high areas (red) it might be more than 50. The map demonstrates how entrenched the disease remains throughout much of west and central Africa and parts of Southeast Asia. Credit: Malaria Atlas Project, University of Oxford

A press release issued today by the the Malaria Atlas Project said:

Malaria continues to exert an huge burden of illness and death worldwide but, after decades of neglect, the war against the disease has entered an unprecedented era: it is high on the policy agenda, international funding is beginning to translate into real increases in populations protected by bed nets and other key interventions, and a growing body of evidence points towards important reductions in illness and death.

The maps have been made freely available, along with a wide range of other malaria resources via the launch of a new online portal at www.map.ox.ac.uk.

Bottom line: The Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), funded mainly by the Wellcome Trust, has published in the Malaria Journal showing the prevalence of malaria around the globe. It includes a new suite of maps, which are freely available here.

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