Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Malaria Journal and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Development of a new version of the Liverpool Malaria Model. II. Calibration and validation for West Africa

Volker Ermert1*, Andreas H Fink1, Anne E Jones2 and Andrew P Morse2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany

2 School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

Malaria Journal 2011, 10:62  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-62

Published: 16 March 2011

Abstract

Background

In the first part of this study, an extensive literature survey led to the construction of a new version of the Liverpool Malaria Model (LMM). A new set of parameter settings was provided and a new development of the mathematical formulation of important processes related to the vector population was performed within the LMM. In this part of the study, so far undetermined model parameters are calibrated through the use of data from field studies. The latter are also used to validate the new LMM version, which is furthermore compared against the original LMM version.

Methods

For the calibration and validation of the LMM, numerous entomological and parasitological field observations were gathered for West Africa. Continuous and quality-controlled temperature and precipitation time series were constructed using intermittent raw data from 34 weather stations across West Africa. The meteorological time series served as the LMM data input. The skill of LMM simulations was tested for 830 different sets of parameter settings of the undetermined LMM parameters. The model version with the highest skill score in terms of entomological malaria variables was taken as the final setting of the new LMM version.

Results

Validation of the new LMM version in West Africa revealed that the simulations compare well with entomological field observations. The new version reproduces realistic transmission rates and simulated malaria seasons are comparable to field observations. Overall the new model version performs much better than the original model. The new model version enables the detection of the epidemic malaria potential at fringes of endemic areas and, more importantly, it is now applicable to the vast area of malaria endemicity in the humid African tropics.

Conclusions

A review of entomological and parasitological data from West Africa enabled the construction of a new LMM version. This model version represents a significant step forward in the modelling of a weather-driven malaria transmission cycle. The LMM is now more suitable for the use in malaria early warning systems as well as for malaria projections based on climate change scenarios, both in epidemic and endemic malaria areas.