Technology is a critical tool in modern medicine. In parts of Africa, drones are becoming a vital resource for combating malaria. A “crowd-droning” platform called Globhe is providing critical information for public health agencies on population statistics and potential mosquito breeding grounds.
Globhe connects with international drone pilots to collect thousands of photos that are then used to piece together virtual maps of large areas. These maps look somewhat like a Google map and can capture information about areas that are difficult to access.
In Malawi and near Lake Victoria, these drones are capturing images of standing water or muddy areas that are potential sites for malaria-carrying mosquito breeding. This allows agencies to spray anti-mosquito chemicals in more targeted areas and avoid broad environmental degradation.
Malaria kills more than 400,000 people a year and most victims are children under five in Africa. Insecticides, vaccines, and mosquito gene editing are all strategies used to stop the spread of the disease, but spraying breeding sites are found to be most effective, and drones are making this process more successful than ever.
Drones also capture vital information about population density and layout, making it easier to predict necessary amounts of supplies for a given area. Drones can also be used in the wake of natural disasters to most effectively coordinate aid and relief efforts. These high-tech tools are quickly becoming one of the world’s most valued humanitarian resources.