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Application of geographical information systems to co-analysis of disease and economic resources: dengue and malaria in Thailand.

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WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Economics, Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Two vector-borne communicable diseases, malaria and dengue, are among a number of diseases of particular importance in relation to economic development in Southeast Asia and thus need to be assessed in relation to economic parameters in the region. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) provide one means of comparing disease and resource data versus time and place, to facilitate rapid visualization by planners and administrators. Given that Thailand is a global epicenter of multidrug resistant falciparum malaria and of dengue hemorrhagic fever, both of which are mosquito-borne, application of GIS methods to these two diseases gives opportunity for comparison of resource needs and allocation in relation to disease epidemiologic patterns. This study examined per capita gross provincial product (GPPpc) and health care resources in relation to geographic distribution of malaria and dengue in Thailand. The two diseases vary greatly in overall seasonal patterns and in relation to provincial economic status, and present differing demands on resource utilization: planned integration of control of malaria and dengue could utilize such analyses in relation to resource sharing and consideration of allocative efficiency. The concentration of malaria (and to a lesser extent dengue) along international border areas underscores the desirability of multi-country coordination of disease management and control programs. Because socio-economic and disease data are collected by quite different means and in different time frames, there are some limitations to the dynamic interpolation of these two broad data sets, but useful inferences can be drawn from this approach for application to overall planning, at both national and multi-country levels.

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