Drones are not just for delivering packages and taking pictures. They can also be an advocate for health; a warning signal for early disease prevention.
A drone project in Malaysia hopes to monitor a deadly disease circulating around the country.
The disease, known as Monkey Malaria, is an incredibly prevalent condition. Among its deadly traits, it accounts for nearly a staggering 70% of human Malaria cases in the country. This terrifying disease spread through people at an incredibly fast rate. The detection for this disease is also fairly poor. Along with its rapid spreading, it is also highly fatal to its human victims. Most of the deaths involve misdiagnosis, and treatment being too late.
Here’s where the drones come in.
The research program called Monkey Bar Project utilizes drones to track monkeys. The drones are equipped with infrared cameras to further see their targets. This is especially useful in the dense forests of Malaysia.
Malaria on Watch:
The drones are to track the macaque monkeys located in the Malasian forests. These animals carry the parasite Plasmodium knowlesi, the main cause of the Monkey Malaria disease. It has been a thorn in the back of researchers for decades now. Mosquitoes are the vectors of this terrifying sickness, and they are in plenty supply. They carry the parasite from the monkeys to human hosts, where it does the damage. The drones’ effort hopes to give data on the macaque monkey location and movement. This hopefully can lead to slowing down the disease spreading to untapped areas.
A decade ago, in 2008, the number of confirmed cases in the country was only 376. Now, it has grown to nearly 2000 annually. The cause points at the country’s forest deforestation as well as lack of habitat for the monkeys. The fewer the area of the forests, the closer human settlements are to the presence of the macaque monkeys. This leads to easier transmission from monkey, to mosquito, to human.
Therefore, aside from monitoring monkey activity, these drones are also there to check for deforestation. Using their powerful cameras and high vantage points provided by powerful propellers and navigation systems, this can be possible.
Using the cameras these drones can take high resolution photos of the areas on a regular basis. Any signs of deforestation are in check, and preventive measures can start. These photos taken by drones are far superior to its predecessor, satellite images. Images are from real time snapshots, while also being closer to the actual area. Compared to a satellite taking photos from miles away, a drone flying directly in the vicinity would provide more accurate data. This way, the research teams can act with a more targeted approach.