THE potential applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, haver generated intense interest across many fields, with the medical field being no exception, said infectious disease physician Dr Timothy William.
Dr Timothy is the Malaysian Principal Investigator for the MONKEYBAR project, an International Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research Project on Monkey Malaria and heads the Infectious and Tropical Disease Department at Jesselton Medical Centre, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
“Drones offer the potential to collect detailed spatial information in real time at relatively low cost, and are being used increasingly in conservation and ecological research. “Within infectious disease epidemiology and public health research, drones can provide spatially and temporally accurate data critical to understanding the link between disease transmission and environmental factors.” Using drones avoids many of the limitations associated with satellite data, such as long repeat times, cloud contamination and low spatial resolution, he said.
“In a pilot study, led together with Kimberley Fornace from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene between December 2013 and May last year, we conducted 158 flights with a drone to obtain environmental data for an epidemiological investigation of risk factors for zoonotic malaria. “The flights were conducted in two study sites in Sabah and one site in Palawan, the Philippines. “The commercially available Sensefly eBee drone was used for all mapping exercises. The eBee can fly for up to 50 minutes and uses a 16-megapixel digital camera to record aerial images, which can be used to produce maps and digital surface models.” He said one of the main benefits of using UAVs was the ability to obtain data in real time and to repeatedly map areas of interest as frequently as required. “In one of our sites in Sabah, development began on clearing secondary forest to establish a rubber plantation. As the clearing occurred within a limited geographical area, the progress of the clearing and the resulting land changes could be mapped quickly and updated routinely. “This ability to map changes as they occur is critical for understanding how land-use change affects the distribution of human populations and disease vectors. “We hope that we will also be able to manage, control diseases better and most of all prevent people from dying from these diseases.”
In Kuala Lumpur, There is also initiatives taken by qualified personnel to curb the Denggi and uses drone with camera as the special equipment to have aerial view of the area coverage on disease control affected area.
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/09/useful-tool-study-disease-spread-and-control
Photo credit to : DP Suresh