Aberystwyth University

Drones to combat malaria

Scientists at Aberystwyth University are using drones in the global fight against malaria.

The project on the island of Zanzibar uses a combination of satellites, sophisticated disease risk mapping and drones to map malarial mosquito habitats, which are water bodies such as rivers, swamps and rice paddies where mosquitoes breed and lay eggs. The images from the drone are uploaded to a smartphone app enabling members of the local community, supported by the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Programme, to precisely identify where to put low-level toxicity larvicide and kill mosquito larvae at source.

The project is being led by Dr Andy Hardy, a lecturer in Remote Sensing and GIS at the University’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, and Professor Chris Thomas. Speaking about the project, Dr Hardy said: “This is a community-led intervention aimed at reducing the population of malarial-carrying mosquitoes and thereby reducing malaria infection across the island, contributing to Zanzibar’s efforts to eliminate the disease once and for all. The hope is we can take this methodology and apply it across sub-Saharan Africa to have a real impact on malaria, which is one of the world’s biggest killers.” The project is funded by the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, a not-for-profit company supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Aid and other organisations.

Further Reading