RITM, ANU, UQ, and CU train DOH staff on geospatial data management
RITM, DPCB, and EB participants convene online with epidemiology and public health experts in the first session of the geospatial data management training course held on May 4, 2022.

In collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU), University of Queensland (UQ), and Curtin University (CU), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), through its Parasitology Department, rolls out its geospatial data management training course for Department of Health (DOH) personnel this May to June 2022 in order to capacitate staff on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and disease mapping using existing appropriate geospatial technology.

Geospatial data management is used in the healthcare industry and is particularly significant in disease outbreaks as it helps determine causes of diseases, identify risk populations, and formulate solutions to halt or prevent disease occurrence. It is a process that is used in spatial epidemiology that aims to organize geographic data on health parameters in a common geospatial framework.

With organized and visualized geographic data used in a disease outbreak, epidemiologists and health researchers are able to determine the frequency and distribution of a certain disease and how this disease varies from one place to another.

Selected researchers from RITM, the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau (DPCB), and the Epidemiology Bureau (EB) are currently participating in the training. They are expected to use their learnings on geospatial data analysis to refine surveillance of diseases in the Philippines.

This training course stems from the ongoing Philippines soil-transmitted helminths (STH) mapping project in collaboration with the aforementioned training organizers to help determine areas in the country in which STH are prevalent. Prediction models will help produce risk maps showing the distribution of STH-hotspot areas across different locations. These in turn will be presented to policymakers to facilitate the formulation of relevant interventions.

“This will support elimination efforts of STH in the country, which would have a far-reaching benefit such as improvement in health and socioeconomic status of affected populations,” RITM Parasitology Department Head Dr. Fe Esperanza Espino said on the importance of the training course to the eradication of STH in the Philippines.

The training course covers the following topics: introduction to spatial epidemiology, spatial data and tools, introduction to GIS, visualization and spatial data exploration using QGIS software, spatial modelling, and communication of spatial studies. 

“We are excited to learn about the advanced tools that we can use for geospatial analysis as this will provide us more information and details to further analyze our research findings,” said training participant and RITM researcher Ms. Vanessa Joy Mapalo on her expectations from the training course.

“Participants are expected to be able to apply the skill they will learn in their respective projects that may require geospatial analysis. For those working in the national programs, this training will help improve their surveillance processes,” said another training participant and RITM researcher Ms. Chona Mae Daga on her insights about how the training will help her and fellow researchers.

by Anel Azel Dimaano