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Satellite Maps vs. Kissing Bugs
Jamais Cascio, 4 Oct 04

SciDev.net points us to an article at the European Space Agency website about an ESA-backed project to provide geo-spatial mapping services for humanitarian aid organizations. The effort profiled in the article is the fight against "kissing bugs" -- blood-sucking beetles which bite around the lips and eyes, spreading the parasite which causes Chagas. This wasting disease can be lethal, and affects 16 million people across Central and South America.

As part of a wider anti-Chagas campaign in the area [the Nicaraguan district of Matagalpa], Médecins Sans Frontières workers oversee a methodical house-to-house inspection campaign, identifying where cracks need to be filled in and control methods such as spraying are required.

This campaign is being guided by ultra high-resolution satellite imagery showing individual houses and even cars [...]
 
 "MSF is evaluating new methods to control Chagas disease, and the acquisition of a high resolution image of Matagalpa is part of this research activity," said Rémi CARRIER, MSF logistics director. "Up until now, MSF staff have been working with hand-drawn maps”.

"The use of space-based mapping technologies allows us to carry out a more efficient situation analysis of the Chagas disease on a house by house basis. It will also help us to implement effective control and monitoring programmes on the ground."

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