A new paper, commissioned by the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) and published in Malaria Journal, has reviewed the literature on malaria and population mobility and made recommendations for new ways for elimination programs to understand and address population mobility.
Authors Dr Catherine Smith and Professor Maxine Whittaker identified three key bodies of work related to mobile populations. These are:
1) mobility, economic development and shifting land use;
2) concerns about accessing mobile populations; and
3) imported and border malaria.
The authors say that while there is a large body of work that sees mobile populations as risk factors for malaria elimination, the literature tends to focus excessively on mobile populations as a threat to elimination and to overstate the difficulties of accessing mobile populations. The paper reviews methods that have been used by some malaria programs, and by HIV/AIDS programs to work with mobile populations. These include respondent driven sampling, the use of social networks and community participation.
The article recommends that elimination programs shift beyond a focus on mobile populations as an isolated demographic group, to look at mobility as a system that connects multiple localities and demographic groups. This will allow better understanding of the spatial dimensions of mobility and the connections that mobility creates between demographic groups. It will also help programs to identify access points into mobility systems.
The review was commissioned by the Network’s Country Partners after population mobility was identified as an emerging issue of importance to the Asia Pacific Region. An earlier draft of the paper was presented to the Network at the fourth annual meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea in 2012. The review was updated this year.
The pdf of the paper, Beyond mobile populations: a critical review of the literature on malaria and population mobility and suggestions for future directions, can be found in Malaria Journal.