Brief history of mapping malaria epidemiology
For many African countries mapping malaria risk was a routine exercise during the global malaria eradication era from the 1950s to late 1960s. Early national malaria control and eradication programmes viewed maps as a necessary tool to determine where to target resources and how to approach control based upon a mapped epidemiology of risk. Entire countries were surveyed for malaria infection prevalence, layered information on climate, ecology and mosquito vector distributions. These details provided malaria programmes with a detailed understanding of all the spatial dimensions of malaria to design control.
Mapping Malaria Risk in Africa (MARA)
In 1996, the Mapping Malaria Risk in Africa (MARA) project was formed through a collaboration between the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust programme and the South African Medical Research council in Durban. It developed a cartography of malaria parasite exposure across Africa. This collaboration sourced empirical data on parasite prevalence from across the continent and developed climate-based maps of transmission suitability for every endemic African country.
Malaria Atlas Project (MAP)
In 2005, the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, led by Professor Bob Snow, established the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), to continue the work by MARA to provide a global risk analysis of malaria infection. The MAP project is now led by a team based at the University of Oxford.
Information for Malaria (INFORM)
In 2013, this programme developed the Information for Malaria (INFORM) project with UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Wellcome Trust UK funding which was led by Professor Bob Snow and Professor Abdisalan Noor. INFORM’s aim was to revive the level of interest shown during the 1960s through the use of mapped epidemiological features of malaria to design cost-effective control at sub-national levels. Malaria profiles were produced for eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. INFORM worked with Roll Back Malaria (RBM) to develop epidemiology profiles in phase 1.
In 2015, DFID extended work started by RBM/INFORM, integrating this work with the WHO African Regional Office (AFRO) programme to improve use of data to inform decision-making. LINK was formed as an integral collaboration between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Information for Malaria Project (INFORM) and National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCPs) of African nations to use data to inform malaria knowledge and decision-making - the LSHTM-INFORM-NMCP-Knowledge (LINK) project.