Relationships between human movement and diffusion of drug-resistant malaria in the DRC

Authors: Corinna Keeler*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: health geography, medical geography, malaria, disease diffusion, drug resistance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Tyler, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Due to the fact that advances in genomic analyses have outpaced demographic data surveillance in much of the world, the spatial spread of malaria is currently better understood through inferring the movement of the microscopic malaria parasite from genetic markers than through measuring movements of the human population. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), several studies have used genetic markers of the P. falciparum malaria parasite to describe the geographic spread of drug resistant strains of malaria. The timing and spatial extent of this spread suggests that human movement is the primary driver of geographic hierarchical diffusion of malaria strains in the DRC, but to date the genetic data has not been linked with data on human mobility in order to empirically examine the role of population movement in spatial patterns of drug resistance. This study examines relationships between human movement, diffusion of drug-resistant malaria, and sociodemographic and environmental contextual variables in the DRC. We construct a spatiotemporal database of drug resistance using two different resistance genetic markers at two time points, and draw on Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data on population mobility to model the relationships between the spread of drug resistance and human mobility. These data are incorporated alongside social/demographic, environmental, and political-economic data in order to examine the relationships between geographic context, seasonal mobility, and spatial spread of drug resistant alleles. Implications for malaria intervention planning and targeting of anti-malarial drug therapies are discussed.

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