As one of the most terrifying and prominent illnesses found in Malawi, finding a solution to Malaria has been hard work. It’s a common challenge all across Africa, but it has become a major problem for Malawi in particular. Finding ways to combat the spread of malaria has been fruitless in the past, with containment the best available option – until now.
Thanks to the development and easy set-up of drone technology, they are now a prominent part of the solution to help fight back against malaria. With most of the ability to fight malaria on the ground being nothing more than good men and women using buckets and spades to get the cures and solutions they need, drone tech offers a more high-end option.
Towns like Kasungu, the town that sits at the base of the Kasungu Mountain, is a rampant part of the malaria issue. It’s also one of the first towns to take part in the Unicef drone testing program. Working alongside the Malawi government, an 80km-wide area was set up to help flying and testing out drones to help the locals fight back against the illness.
These drones are used to drop off key supplies to areas that might be hard or otherwise impossible to reach with the right tools. It also helps with scouting, making it easier to pinpoint areas where outbreaks are highest. Most importantly, though, this is helping Malawi residents learn how to build and then pilot a drone so that the good work can be continued outside of this particular area.
Indeed, with a quarter of Malawian children under the age of five suffering from malaria, it’s vital that we act quickly to help minimize the damage and limit the spread of the illness. However, elimination of malaria is still a long, long way away.
How can drones help?
Part of the problem with the spread of malaria comes from the complicated process of the Anopheles mosquito. They take a blood meal from a human or an animal, and then search for water to help lay the eggs. When they find these little ponds, pools, and lakes – common during November-April – then malaria outbreaks will swell and grow.
The aim is to try and reduce the mosquito breeding levels and to also help make sure that both dry and wet season can see reduced numbers. The aim of the drones is to help reduce the time that it takes to find mosquito breeding points and also to find mosquito larvae. This is a time-consuming task to do by hand, and the hope is that the drones can speed up this essential part of the process.
The idea, then, is to help improve analysis speed and simplicity to help find out where mosquitos are most commonly congregating and breeding. The more that can be done to control this, the better the hope is that a long-term solution can and will be found to help curb the development and rapid transmission of malaria across the board.
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