Using GIS Software for innovative field research

Sightsavers has been using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and satellite imagery to help treat river blindness among nomadic groups.

Sightsavers is an international charity that works to treat and prevent neglected tropical diseases in developing countries. The organisation's research team were recently challenged with locating and treating nomadic people living in the Massangam Health district in Cameroon. This area has a high infection rate of Onchocerciasis (or "river blindness"), a disease spread by flies that live near fast-flowing rivers. This parasitic infection causes severe skin irritation, itching and, eventually, irreversible blindness. It was known that a significant proportion of that community had missed out on previous treatment programmes due to living outside of settled communities and the location of their camps sometimes being unknown to health authorities.