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A ground-breaking study in Bangladesh co-lead by MORU has found that using data from mobile phone networks to track the movement of people across the country can help predict where outbreaks of diseases such as malaria are likely to occur, enabling health authorities to take preventative measures.

Chimbuk, Bangladesh

Head of Epidemiology, Richard Maude, was co-PI for the study and designed it together with co-PI Caroline Buckee from Harvard University. MORU Epidemiology and longstanding MORU collaborators from Chittagong Medical College (CMC) led by co-PI Md Amir Hossain set up and ran the field studies to collect the demographic and travel surveys and blood samples from people with malaria, negotiated permissions to access the cellphone data and liaised with the partners in Bangladesh including the National Malaria Elimination Programme who contributed national surveillance data to the project. 

Hospital ward in Bangladesh Hospital ward in Bangladesh Didar Uddin was field site coordinator on the ground in Bangladesh supported by CMC. Ipsita Sinha and Sazid Ibna Zaman contributed to the data analysis and did the data management for the study together with the CTSG team. Specimen management was supported by WWARN and the blood samples were analysed at the Sanger Institute in the UK as part of the GenReMekong project led by Olivo Miotto.

This publication is the first of a series of papers from this study. A second paper written by Ipsita with a more detailed analysis of the travel surveys is currently under review. The study was funded by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Medical Research Council.

Read this story on BBC News.

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