Thanks to a concerted global effort, the world has seen an astonishing 60 percent drop in malaria rates since 2000. But in sub-Saharan Africa, this preventable disease still takes the life of a child every two minutes. In Zambia alone, 4 million people suffer from malaria, and an estimated 3,000 die from the mosquito-borne infection every year.
Visualize No Malaria—a partnership of PATH, Tableau, and a coalition of technology partners to support Zambia’s Ministry of Health—uses data to support that country’s goal of eliminating malaria. And now it urgently needs your help. In a few minutes you can help create a crowdsourced map of the area around a health facility in Zambia’s Southern Province.
PATH, Mapbox, and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team have joined forces with DigitalGlobe, a leading provider of high-resolution satellite imagery, to support Visualize No Malaria. We’re asking you to use iD editor—which allows anyone to edit OpenStreetMap—to trace buildings on a satellite image and upload the result to a map. Your data will be combined with data from other volunteers.
The Visualize No Malaria team will use the map—along with other geographical factors like elevation, rainfall, and temperature data—to predict where and when malaria outbreaks are likely to occur. Zambia’s Ministry of Health will use these predictive models to deploy resources—like bednets, insecticides, diagnostics, and drugs—to where they’re needed most. And community health workers will use it to hunt down every case of malaria and wipe it out once and for all.
Start mapping today
Whether you’re an experienced mapper or a novice, you can help us visualize potential malaria hot spots. Here’s how:
- Become a volunteer mapper by signing up for a free account on OpenStreetMap (OSM) from anywhere in the world.
- Follow this link to OSM Tasking Manager and search #visualizenomalaria to find a project.
- After you select a project, click the instructions tab at the top for information about what and how to map, then click the contribute tab and pick a task to get started. If you’re a beginner and want more guidance, these short video tutorials can help you get started.
The software enables you to view high-resolution satellite images of an area and trace outlines of buildings and other features. Once these features are mapped, other information relevant to health efforts can be added.
“Maps and geospatial data play a critical role in understanding and meeting the needs of populations most affected by malaria,” says Jeff Bernson, director of results management, measurement, and learning at PATH. “Mapping structures with this level of granularity will only further support the Zambian Ministry of Health as they mobilize their resources in their fight to eliminate malaria.”
Partnerships make it possible
Mapbox has been an important partner of the Visualize No Malaria campaign, supporting PATH by coordinating the project, validating data contributed through the HOT Tasking Manager, and introducing the partners to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap community.
Last year, dozens of volunteers helped map almost 42,000 buildings in Zambia’s Livingstone district in just a couple of months for Visualize No Malaria.
Now DigitalGlobe—a new partner in the Visualize No Malaria Coalition—is boosting the mapping effort by contributing another layer of resources: high-resolution satellite imagery, data, and analysis. Through its Seeing a Better World program, DigitalGlobe partners with humanitarian organizations to support their work in global health, food security, climate resilience, and other areas.
Crowdsourcing this valuable data would not be possible without the OpenStreetMap project and the mapping collaboration tools developed by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team, which enable an ever-growing global community to quickly fill in missing details.
Ultimately the success of the mapping efforts—and the future for millions of people whose lives are affected by malaria—depend on people like you. Will you help us end malaria in Zambia for good? Pick up your mouse and join the effort!