ADVANCED  TECH  USED  IN  UNIVERSITY  OF THE  PHILIPPINES  STUDY

MANILA, September 1, 2005
 (STAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - Two advanced technologies were found capable of detecting the increasing incidence of malaria and schistosomiasis in the country, scientists said.

The usefulness of remote sensing (RS) and geographic information system (GIS) was established in a study conducted by experts from the Department of Parasitology of the University of the Philippines.

The study was aimed at determining the "environmental factors" that support mosquito and snail populations, which spread parasitic diseases like malaria and schistosomiasis, respectively.

Funded by the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD), the study was conducted in the towns of Kapalong and Asuncion in Davao del Norte.

According to Prof. Lydia Leonardo, the project leader, RI uses lasers, radio frequency receivers, radar systems and sonar to collect data and information about the diseases.

The GIS, on the other hand, is a special-purpose digital database that uses geo-references as the primary means of accessing and storing information.

"RS and GIS, coupled with updated data, can help health management officers battle malaria in their areas," she said.

Through these technologies, experts will be able to assess the landscape features that can trigger an increase in malaria cases, through the production of "prevalence maps."

Common in 72 of the 75 provinces in the Philippines, malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, while parasitic worms that are spread by snails cause schistosomiasis.

During the study, maps revealed that malaria-infected barangays are found mostly in the uplands, while the communities endemic with schistosomiasis are in the lowlands.

Malaria prevalence was also found high in areas covered with dipterocarp forests dominated by trees of the dipterocarp species such as red lauan, tanguile, tiaong, white lauan, almon, bagtikan and mayapis of the Philippine mahogany group, and apitong and yakal.

Researchers found out that areas with grasslands and agricultural lands are prone to schistosomiasis.

The maps showed that the water source and soil type also contribute to the spread of malaria and schistosomiasis in endemic areas.

"With the relation found between the diseases and the environmental factors, our health management officers can now come up with statistical models. These models may be used to predict an epidemic or outbreak of the diseases," she said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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