Chris Mercado

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Clinical Trials & Epidemiology
Keywords: Malaria, Epidemiology, GIS, Surveillance and Elimination
Web Links:
Confirmed malaria cases in 22 Asia Pacific countries in 2015

Confirmed malaria cases in 22 Asia Pacific countries in 2015

Forest cover in Ubon Ratchathani Province, Thailand in 2016

Forest cover in Ubon Ratchathani Province, Thailand in 2016

Chris Mercado is a research assistant in MORU Epidemiology under the supervision of Professor Richard Maude. A native of the Philippines, Chris’ main interests include infectious disease epidemiology, spatial analysis, and public health surveillance.

His previous work has included collection, collation, and analysis of datasets on malaria surveillance in multiple countries in the Asia Pacific for the development of disease risk maps and mathematical models to support malaria elimination efforts.

Before joining MORU in 2015, Chris created health dashboards for the WHO-Western Pacific Regional Office, assisted in the research and teaching activities at a state university, worked as a nurse in a tertiary teaching hospital and interned at the Global Migration Health Support Unit of IOM in the Philippines. He is a member of the Health GeoLab Collaborative.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Jaranit Kaewkungwal Center of Excellence for Biomedical and Health Informatics (BIOPHICS) Thailand
Dr Steeve Ebener GIS Lab Health GeoLab Collaborative Philippines
Professor Lisa J White Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Dr Sheetal Silal Statistical Sciences University of Cape Town South Africa
Mercado CE, Ekapirat N, Dondorp AM, Maude RJ. 2017. An assessment of national surveillance systems for malaria elimination in the Asia Pacific. Malar. J., 16 (1), pp. 127. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Heads of Government from Asia and the Pacific have committed to a malaria-free region by 2030. In 2015, the total number of confirmed cases reported to the World Health Organization by 22 Asia Pacific countries was 2,461,025. However, this was likely a gross underestimate due in part to incidence data not being available from the wide variety of known sources. There is a recognized need for an accurate picture of malaria over time and space to support the goal of elimination. A survey was conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the collection of malaria incidence data for surveillance by National Malaria Control Programmes in 22 countries identified by the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance. METHODS: In 2015-2016, a short questionnaire on malaria surveillance was distributed to 22 country National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCP) in the Asia Pacific. It collected country-specific information about the extent of inclusion of the range of possible sources of malaria incidence data and the role of the private sector in malaria treatment. The findings were used to produce recommendations for the regional heads of government on improving malaria surveillance to inform regional efforts towards malaria elimination. RESULTS: A survey response was received from all 22 target countries. Most of the malaria incidence data collected by NMCPs originated from government health facilities, while many did not collect comprehensive data from mobile and migrant populations, the private sector or the military. All data from village health workers were included by 10/20 countries and some by 5/20. Other sources of data included by some countries were plantations, police and other security forces, sentinel surveillance sites, research or academic institutions, private laboratories and other government ministries. Malaria was treated in private health facilities in 19/21 countries, while anti-malarials were available in private pharmacies in 16/21 and private shops in 6/21. Most countries use primarily paper-based reporting. CONCLUSIONS: Most collected malaria incidence data in the Asia Pacific is from government health facilities while data from a wide variety of other known sources are often not included in national surveillance databases. In particular, there needs to be a concerted regional effort to support inclusion of data on mobile and migrant populations and the private sector. There should also be an emphasis on electronic reporting and data harmonization across organizations. This will provide a more accurate and up to date picture of the true burden and distribution of malaria and will be of great assistance in helping realize the goal of malaria elimination in the Asia Pacific by 2030.

Guevarra JP, Cordova RQ, Mercado CE, Asaad AS. 2014. Tobacco use among fourth year Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) students of the College of Public Health: University of the Philippines Manila, academic year 2012-2013. J Community Health, 39 (5), pp. 886-93. | Show Abstract

This study determines the prevalence of tobacco use among graduating Public Health students at the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila. It also describes the exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, attitudes, behaviors and smoking cessation training of students. This study used a descriptive cross-sectional study design, adapting a standard questionnaire, pretested and administered to 52 Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) students at the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila. Data generated from the survey were encoded using Epi Info version 3.5.4 and analyzed using Stata version 12. The prevalence of smoking among 4th year BSPH students was 5.8 % (current smokers). In the past 7 days, respondents have been exposed to secondhand smoke (44 % where they live; 79 % in places other than where they live). Majority were aware of the official policy on smoking ban in school, however, 80 % said that the policy is not enforced. Majority had favorable attitudes in terms of banning tobacco sales to adolescents, banning advertising of tobacco products, banning smoking in restaurants, discos/bars/pubs and enclosed public places. Majority of the respondents also believed that health professionals should get specific training on cessation techniques, that they do serve as role models, and that they have a role in giving advice about smoking cessation. More than three-quarters (76.9 %) of students said that health professionals who smoke are less likely to advise patients to quit. Most of the graduating students learned about the dangers of smoking, importance of obtaining tobacco use history, and providing educational support materials in their public health education but only a few received formal training about smoking cessation approaches. The implementation of the no-smoking policy of the university must be revisited. Smoking cessation approaches should be incorporated in the public health curriculum and the role of public health students in advocating a smoke-free lifestyle should be emphasized.

Mercado CE, Ekapirat N, Dondorp AM, Maude RJ. 2017. An assessment of national surveillance systems for malaria elimination in the Asia Pacific. Malar. J., 16 (1), pp. 127. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Heads of Government from Asia and the Pacific have committed to a malaria-free region by 2030. In 2015, the total number of confirmed cases reported to the World Health Organization by 22 Asia Pacific countries was 2,461,025. However, this was likely a gross underestimate due in part to incidence data not being available from the wide variety of known sources. There is a recognized need for an accurate picture of malaria over time and space to support the goal of elimination. A survey was conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the collection of malaria incidence data for surveillance by National Malaria Control Programmes in 22 countries identified by the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance. METHODS: In 2015-2016, a short questionnaire on malaria surveillance was distributed to 22 country National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCP) in the Asia Pacific. It collected country-specific information about the extent of inclusion of the range of possible sources of malaria incidence data and the role of the private sector in malaria treatment. The findings were used to produce recommendations for the regional heads of government on improving malaria surveillance to inform regional efforts towards malaria elimination. RESULTS: A survey response was received from all 22 target countries. Most of the malaria incidence data collected by NMCPs originated from government health facilities, while many did not collect comprehensive data from mobile and migrant populations, the private sector or the military. All data from village health workers were included by 10/20 countries and some by 5/20. Other sources of data included by some countries were plantations, police and other security forces, sentinel surveillance sites, research or academic institutions, private laboratories and other government ministries. Malaria was treated in private health facilities in 19/21 countries, while anti-malarials were available in private pharmacies in 16/21 and private shops in 6/21. Most countries use primarily paper-based reporting. CONCLUSIONS: Most collected malaria incidence data in the Asia Pacific is from government health facilities while data from a wide variety of other known sources are often not included in national surveillance databases. In particular, there needs to be a concerted regional effort to support inclusion of data on mobile and migrant populations and the private sector. There should also be an emphasis on electronic reporting and data harmonization across organizations. This will provide a more accurate and up to date picture of the true burden and distribution of malaria and will be of great assistance in helping realize the goal of malaria elimination in the Asia Pacific by 2030.

Guevarra JP, Cordova RQ, Mercado CE, Asaad AS. 2014. Tobacco use among fourth year Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) students of the College of Public Health: University of the Philippines Manila, academic year 2012-2013. J Community Health, 39 (5), pp. 886-93. | Show Abstract

This study determines the prevalence of tobacco use among graduating Public Health students at the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila. It also describes the exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, attitudes, behaviors and smoking cessation training of students. This study used a descriptive cross-sectional study design, adapting a standard questionnaire, pretested and administered to 52 Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) students at the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila. Data generated from the survey were encoded using Epi Info version 3.5.4 and analyzed using Stata version 12. The prevalence of smoking among 4th year BSPH students was 5.8 % (current smokers). In the past 7 days, respondents have been exposed to secondhand smoke (44 % where they live; 79 % in places other than where they live). Majority were aware of the official policy on smoking ban in school, however, 80 % said that the policy is not enforced. Majority had favorable attitudes in terms of banning tobacco sales to adolescents, banning advertising of tobacco products, banning smoking in restaurants, discos/bars/pubs and enclosed public places. Majority of the respondents also believed that health professionals should get specific training on cessation techniques, that they do serve as role models, and that they have a role in giving advice about smoking cessation. More than three-quarters (76.9 %) of students said that health professionals who smoke are less likely to advise patients to quit. Most of the graduating students learned about the dangers of smoking, importance of obtaining tobacco use history, and providing educational support materials in their public health education but only a few received formal training about smoking cessation approaches. The implementation of the no-smoking policy of the university must be revisited. Smoking cessation approaches should be incorporated in the public health curriculum and the role of public health students in advocating a smoke-free lifestyle should be emphasized.

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