Predicting the geographic spread of Ebola virus disease in West Africa

Grant awarded: £95,179

Lead organisation: University of Oxford

Partnering organisations: Spatial Ecology and Epidemiology Group (SEEG)

Project length: 2014-15

Study locations: Oxford, UK

Principal Investigator: Professor Simon Hay, University of Oxford


The geographic spread of Ebola virus disease (EVD) during the ongoing outbreak in West Africa has been driven by human movement within and between countries. Using data on human mobility in these countries to make quantitative predictions of disease spread will enable more rational deployment of resources as efforts are scaled to contain the epidemic.

Expected outcomes:

High-resolution maps of EVD importation risk in West Africa will be developed and disseminated to WHO and authorised partners. These maps, along with relevant summary information (such as the health centres most likely to see new cases), will be continuously updated as data become available and automatically disseminated via an online geographic information system alongside other spatial information to guide control of the ongoing outbreak. These tools will also be useful to maintain vigilance as the epidemic comes under control.

Progress and outcomes achieved:

A software developer will be working for 2 months on automating the pipeline, bringing forward the delivery date for ‘Software to automate mapping pipeline‘ to April.

The following milestones are complete: Collate existing EVD case and human mobility data, Collate logistical and geographical data, providing case, human mobility and logistical data for the three affected countries.
The next milestone to Construct regional models of human mobility is currently in progress and on schedule, developing different models in order to test them against each other.

Dissemination is already happening via WHO and their situation reports and can be seen here:

Project Link:


R2HC Funding for Ebola Projects.  A Rapid Response

 In August 2014, the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa was declared an International Health Emergency by WHO and within a couple of weeks ELRHA launched a rapid-response call for research to combat the crisis.  The UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Wellcome Trust and ELRHA opened a special funding window through the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme.

 The aim of this emergency call was both to produce robust research findings that could contribute to the effectiveness of the response to the current outbreak and help to draw lessons for future outbreaks of Ebola and other communicable diseases. The projects funded will strengthen the evidence base for the Ebola response in topics ranging from diagnostics to anthropology, surveillance and disease control.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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