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Using Cell Phone Data to Curb the Spread of Malaria


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Kenyan male with cellphone

Public health researchers used cell phone data in Kenya to investigate how people's travel patterns contribute to the spread of malaria.

Credit: www.textually.org

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and seven other institutions used cell phone data in Kenya to investigate how people's travel patterns contribute to the spread of malaria.

The researchers found that malaria largely emanated from Kenya’s Lake Victoria region and spread east. "This is the first time that such a massive amount of cell phone data--from millions of individuals over the course of a year--has been used, together with detailed infectious disease data, to measure human mobility and understand how a disease is spreading," says HSPH's Caroline Buckee.

Between June 2008 and June 2009, the researchers mapped every call or text made by each of 14,816,521 Kenyan mobile phone subscribers to one of 11,920 cell towers located across 692 different settlements. Every time someone left their settlement, the destination and duration of each journey was measured. The researchers used a 2009 malaria prevalence map provided by co-authors at the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Malaria Atlas Project to estimate the disease’s prevalence in each location being studied. They inferred each resident’s probability of being infected and the daily probability that visitors to particular areas would become infected.

From Harvard School of Public Health
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


 

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