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Mar 11, 2017 06:53 AM EST

The Mathematical Solution To The Malaria Problem

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Mosquitoes are small yet they are the carriers to some of the deadliest diseases in the world. There have been various methods how to regulate these insects and one of them is something you do not expect - mathematics.

When you think of math, the first thing that comes to mind are numbers. You'll never think of it as a way to combat malaria or the Zika virus. But here's one mathematician who is doing it and is very effective.

Dr. Philip Eckhoff has a PhD in applied and computational mathematics from Princeton University. He is also a principal investigator at the Institute of Disease Modelling. As a child growing up in Haiti, he had several bouts of malaria leading him to study more about the disease and its impact to global public health.

Using his math skills, he created mathematical models that allow scientists to predict mosquito behavior, such as what time of the day are they most active, their resistance to mosquito killers, and the efficacy of different treatments.

The model also allow them to evaluate why some methods are effective and why mosquitoes are difficult to eliminate in some areas.

Eckhoff said that there are many ways to model the disease, such as agent-base modeling or differential equations. In agent-base modeling, for example, they create a simulation where every person, place, and things become objects in the software. Then they create the rules how these items interact.

However, these methods depend on the questions that's being asked. One important question is how to eliminate malaria using the different kinds of interventions in one specific setting. This question is important because malaria is different from every place depending on the species of mosquito that transports it.

When asked whether these mathematical methods will completely eliminate the threat of malaria, Dr. Eckhoff said that in order to end the disease, local communities should practice all the given recommendations or else nothing will change.

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