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Established in late 2016, MORU Epidemiology has grown to around 50 people based in 11 countries. The Department published 92 peer-reviewed research papers since its founding. Staff in Epidemiology currently supervise 12 DPhil/PhD and 2 MSc students.

Breakout session on identifying malaria surveillance data quality issues and solutions in the Asia-Pacific.
Breakout session on identifying malaria surveillance data quality issues and solutions in the Asia-Pacific.

The Epidemiology Department’s research aims are to quantify the burden of communicable diseases in the Asia-Pacific over space and time and investigate their determinants to inform planning of disease control and elimination strategies. Our recent significant achievements include:

  • Completed a multidisciplinary project on sustaining village malaria workers (VMWs) in the Greater Mekong Subregion through expanding their roles and integration into the primary care system. This combined Asia-Pacific wide landscaping of VMW programmes with systematic literature review, online survey and interviews of implementing organisations with field research in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The field research comprised stakeholder analysis and interviews, community surveys and policymaker workshops leading to development of implementation packages and policy briefs for each country and the GMS region. Disseminated to Ministries of Health, the WHO and other partners through a series of meetings and workshops, our findings and recommendations formed the basis of the VMW integration plans for the regional and national grant applications to the Global Fund for malaria for 2024-2026.
  • Completed analysis of surveys of forest goers in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand to identify risk behaviours, prevention practices and travel patterns to inform NMCP plans.
  • Developed methods to identify malaria transmission sites in the forest from GPS tracking data.
  • Completed accessibility analysis for FIND to determine the optimal geographical distribution of G6PD testing devices in Bangladesh and supported development of the FIND OptiDx tool.
  • Completed analysis of travel patterns of 6300 forest goers in Lao PDR to support development of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for malaria.
  • Completed analysis of association between climate and malaria for the NMCP In Lao PDR to inform their NSP.
  • Conducted Asia-Pacific wide brainstorming to identify data quality issues for malaria, and solutions to these problems, including NMCPs and APMEN partner organisations.
  • Implemented global data quality project landscaping survey in Asia-Pacific for Roll Back Malaria.
  • Developed and piloted new methods for mapping malaria incidence at village level to guide targeting of interventions for the government of Bangladesh.
  • Continued to support ongoing collection and roll-out of travel surveys by National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCPs) for quantifying population movement in people with malaria across the Greater Mekong subregion.
  • Continued to support the Cambodia government to continue mapping and counting population in villages in malaria endemic areas across the country.
  • Continued to support the Cambodian government with annually updating their stratification for malaria using new analytical methods first developed by us in 2019-2020. The Cambodian government adopted and applied this nationwide. In 2022, we updated it with a new national forest map which we produced with the European Space Agency from satellite imagery. We have helped them to integrate it in their Malaria Information System and are using it to underpin their national elimination strategy and Global Fund application for malaria elimination in 2024-2026.
  • Conducted ongoing analyses and mapping of routine malaria incidence data in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam to answer priority questions identified by their Ministries of Health (MOHs).
  • Contributed to development of new international guidelines published in 2021 including co-authoring the WHO and UN-Habitat Global Framework for Response to Malaria in Urban Areas; co-ordinating and co-authoring the WHO Geo Enabled Digital Microplanning Handbook for which we wrote the malaria section; co-authored the Implementation Support Guide: Development of a National Georeferenced Community Health Worker Master List hosted in a Registry led by CHAI/CHIC/GF/UNICEF/Ministries of Health. Leading the development of new global guidance on measuring the performance of malaria community health workers for Roll Back Malaria.
  • Hosted the Asia-Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) Surveillance and Response Working Group of 22 NMCPs and 50 country partners for which we conducted rolling research to produce an updated list of research priorities and training needs for the region.
  • Completed analysis of population movement data from Facebook, Google and Apple from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam to assess quality, representativeness, identify use cases and quantify trends in population movement over time.
  • Provided extensive geospatial data collection and analysis support to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for COVID-19 response in Bangladesh. This included creating and maintaining COVID-19 situation dashboards, analysis for risk zoning of Dhaka city and updating and correcting map boundary files for the whole country.
  • Completed a schools engagement project in Thailand to develop educational videos for COVID-19 prevention in Thailand.
  • Completed analysis of dengue surveillance data in Myanmar to identify spatiotemporal patterns and association with climate with development and validation of a simple prediction method for the Ministry of Health.
  • Conducted systemic reviews on:
    • dengue prediction models worldwide
    • dengue situation in the GMS.
  • Performed ongoing analyses of the dengue situation and factors driving spatiotemporal patterns in Thailand for the Ministry of Public Health.
  • Supported analysis of dengue hotspots in the Philippines.
  • Completed analysis of spatiotemporal distribution of tuberculosis in Thailand.
  • Supported analysis of surveillance data for the China CDC to identify spatiotemporal patterns of scrub typhus and echinococcosis in China including the association with climate and future impact of climate change.
  • Led the WHO Global Health Facility Data Initiative in Western Pacific Region and in 8 countries to support Ministries of Health and WHO to develop, quality assess and openly share health facility master lists. This included leading development of new methods and SOPs for WHO, desktop research and close engagement with WHO and countries.
  • Completed a cohort study of pregnant women and infants in Thailand in collaboration with Ramathibodi Hospital to study the impact of environmental pollution on health.
  • Completed a cohort study of pregnant women and infants in Thailand in collaboration with Ramathibodi Hospital to study the impact of environmental pollution on health.