Dhaka creates e-map to halt Aids

March 28, 2003

Geographers from Dhaka University are giving 100 of Bangladesh's leading non-governmental organisations the high-tech tools they need to stop HIV and Aids spreading into the country from neighbouring India.

A firm set up by Amanat Ullah Khan and Shahnaz Huq-Hussain is logging the location of the NGOs on electronic maps of 44 districts.

The maps, commissioned by the US Agency for International Development, show who is working where and what they are doing. They also show the danger areas where HIV infection is likeliest to be passed on: slums, brothels, truck stops, barracks and rickshaw stands. Previously the information was available only in table form.

"Many things become clear when you look at a map," Dr Khan said.

Dr Khan was invited by the British Council to study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for three months, and then moved to the University of Portsmouth. At Portsmouth he learnt how to use the geographical information system to convert maps into electronic form and link other information to them.

He introduced GIS training to courses at Dhaka and in 1999 formed the Geographical Solutions Research Centre Ltd with Ms Huq-Hussain, a specialist in urban social issues and mapping.

At their office in Dhaka, they use a digitiser to convert paper maps into electronic form, and complex software to superimpose information gleaned from fieldwork in the districts.

The GSRC is hoping for a contract to pursue the HIV-prevention fieldwork more intensively.

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