Malaria is a serious public health threat in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and its transmission risk varies geographically. Modelling its geographic characteristics is essential for identifying the spatial and temporal risk of malaria transmission. Remote sensing (RS) has been serving as an important tool in providing and assessing a variety of potential climatic/environmental malaria transmission variables in diverse areas. This review focuses on the utilization of RS-driven climatic/environmental variables in determining malaria transmission in SSA. A systematic search on Google Scholar and the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Web of KnowledgeSM
databases (PubMed, Web of Science and ScienceDirect) was carried out. We identified thirty-five peer-reviewed articles that studied the relationship between remotely-sensed climatic variable(s) and malaria epidemiological data in the SSA sub-regions. The relationship between malaria disease and different climatic/environmental proxies was examined using different statistical methods. Across the SSA sub-region, the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) derived from either the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) or Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) satellite sensors was most frequently returned as a statistically-significant variable to model both spatial and temporal malaria transmission. Furthermore, generalized linear models (linear regression, logistic regression and Poisson regression) were the most frequently-employed methods of statistical analysis in determining malaria transmission predictors in East, Southern and West Africa. By contrast, multivariate analysis was used in Central Africa. We stress that the utilization of RS in determining reliable malaria transmission predictors and climatic/environmental monitoring variables would require a tailored approach that will have cognizance of the geographical/climatic setting, the stage of malaria elimination continuum, the characteristics of the RS variables and the analytical approach, which in turn, would support the channeling of intervention resources sustainably.
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