It takes more than medicine to fight malaria, Seattle-area researchers have found – it also takes software. Two Seattle enterprises have paired up to join the government in Zambia as it works to eliminate the disease within the country.

Seattle business intelligence company Tableau Software chose PATH in 2014 as the first recipient of its employee foundation and committed to helping the Seattle global health organization through 2020 to prevent the spread of malaria in the African country.

PATH and Tableau are sharing what they have learned from their Visualize No Malaria program at a Tuesday event at Tableau’s headquarters to mark World Malaria Day.

PATH partners with the Zambia Ministry of Health to treat and prevent malaria, with the goal of eliminating it from the country in 2020. Tableau, which makes software to visualize data sets in a variety of ways, has donated use of its software and expert help to the effort.

One of the biggest things PATH has gained is easy access to data from the field, said Jeff Bernson, the director of results management, measurement and learning at PATH. Health managers in the country, who often work in rural areas, have long been keeping track of malaria outbreaks and people threatened by the disease in paper books.

Over the past couple years, PATH and Tableau have been able to train many to use Tableau’s software to visualize where the disease is occurring.

“The way that Tableau has allowed us to display information geographically on a map makes it easy to compare one transmission season to the last,” Bernson said.

PATH makes use of the mapped data to decide where it’s best to spray insecticide. The technology also lets PATH keep an eye on which districts are consistently reporting data, and where there are holes.

Tableau’s Foundation, which is funded by its employees and business partners, has helped more than 3,000 organizations. PATH was one of the first organizations that the foundation talked to when it was launched, said Neal Myrick, Tableau’s director of social impact.

The Tableau Foundation has committed $500,000 to benefit PATH’s efforts over the five-year period. – (The Seattle Times)

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