New thesis: GIS and spatial methods in epidemiology

Two people nailing a thesis to a tree trunk installed in a library
Augustus Aturinde, to the left, nailing his thesis in the Geolibrary accompanied by supervisor Ali Mansourian.

Augustus Aturinde, PhD candidate, recently nailed his thesis “GIS and Health: Enhancing Disease Surveillance and Intervention through Spatial Epidemiology”.

Augustus Aturinde is a PhD candidate at our department, who came here through a bi-lateral scholarship by SIDA and Makerere University that targeted teaching staff at Ugandan Public Universities. He is also a member of Faculty at the Department of Lands and Architectural Studies, Kyambogo University, Uganda. He will defend his thesis on November 27th.

Describe short your research

– My research is concerned with the use of place-specific thinking and analyses to better depict and predict where disease intervention should be directed. We used mainly disease mortality and morbidity records from Uganda and Sweden.

What are the spatial methods in epidemiology?

– Epidemiology deals with the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations. It is also concerned with the use of this obtained knowledge (through the studies) to control health-related problems. To do this, three aspects are always considered. These are person, time and place. Classically, most studies in epidemiology tend to give more attention to aspects of person and time, almost exclusively. Approaches that strive to include “place” in addition to the already two - person and time - are what are known as spatial methods (in epidemiology). To this end, spatially weighted and spatially explicit regressions, spatial scan statistics and local spatial entropy maps were applied in my study.

Describe the patial aspects of the data

– Spatial aspects of data related to those characteristics that link the data to a specific place. To illustrate this by example: assume there is an infectious disease in a particular part of the country and that you are interested in tracking how the disease is moving through the population. One of the parameters that would be required in addition to the specifics of the persons that have been affected, would be to know the locations where these people have been. More importantly, where they were when they first got the symptoms.

How can this research be applied?

– This research is useful in that it tries to link the environmental and social-economic conditions to the observed health outcomes – be it morbidity or mortality. The link is very important as it provides plausible grounds for disease surveillance and intervention. This could be in the form of healthcare resource planning and appropriation, or human resource placement – to control the health outcome(s). It is important to healthcare policy professionals and all those involved with healthcare resource planning and allocation. It is also important to ministries of health in the two countries used as case studies, Uganda and Sweden. And certainly, important to funders of healthcare as well as to fellow researchers especially in aspects of methods and data.

How would you like to go forward with your research from here?

– I will continue with my research by applying it to other areas either within the health sector or extending it to other domains. I also envision extending the methods used to include probabilistic local spatial analyses.

For more information, contact Augustus Aturinde or Ali Mansourian

More information about Augustus Aturinde´s defense can be found in our calendar.