Researchers developing online visualisation tool to support decision makers in tackling vector borne diseases
An online visualisation tool is currently being developed to support decision makers in taking site specific intervention measures to mitigate the risk of outbreaks and transmission of water-related vector-borne diseases (VBDs) in eastern Africa by providing direct and visual access to the results of the EC-funded HEALTHY FUTURES (Health, Environmental Change and Adaptive Capacity: mapping, examining and anticipating future risks of water-related vector-borne diseases in eastern Africa) project.
HEALTHY FUTURES is an FP7-funded research project that aims to construct a disease risk-mapping system for three water-related, high-impact VBDs (malaria, Rift Valley fever and schistosomiasis) in eastern Africa, taking into account environmental/climatic trends and changes in socio-economic conditions to predict future risk. As the project is now in its final year, significant progress is being made in an effort to integrate the scientific outputs of the project into an effective online visualisation tool suitable for decision makers within eastern Africa.
The online atlas is being developed at the Centre for Geoinformatics (Z_GIS), Paris Lodron University of Salzburg (PLUS) in collaboration with other HEALTHY FUTURES partners. It will enable end-users to filter the available information by the target disease, time and associated climate change scenarios, and the risk framework components. For each of the three diseases, different time components will be available including historical data, present-day results, future scenarios, and "change maps". For most of the combinations, maps will be displayed and different information associated to the data will be visualised through graphs and/or tables. The atlas will be based on open source software products and will be accessible via the project website: www.healthyfutures.eu
HEALTHY FUTURES has also recently released a report detailing its collaborations and synergies with other related projects and stakeholders. In particular, the benefits and outcomes of HEALTHY FUTURES' collaborations with its sister project QWeCI (Quantifying Weather and Climate Impacts on Health in Developing Countries) are noted, focusing in particular, on a number of malaria and Rift Valley Fever models utilized in both projects. These include the Liverpool Malaria Model, initially developed under the DEMETER project (FP5), which was further refined in both QWeCI and HEALTHY FUTURES, the Rift Valley Fever Model originally developed by the University of Liverpool during QWeCI and the VECTRI malaria model recently developed at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). The use of these models within HEALTHY FUTURES would not have been possible without the close collaboration of QWeCI.
Example of information provided by the HEALTHY FUTURES online visualisation tool
The report also details HEALTHY FUTURES stakeholder engagement strategy. As part of this strategy, HEALTHY FUTURES is coordinating an upcoming international conference entitled "Climate Change and Vector Borne Disease: Past, Present and Futures". This conference is scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda from 18-20 November 2014. It will attract experts in the field of climate change and VBD research, and policy-makers from a local, regional and international level, with the aim of providing a forum to initiate meaningful discussion on how to integrate science with policy. The conference will focus on a number of themes including environmental change affecting VBDs, statistical and dynamical disease modelling, climate change related risk analysis and vulnerability assessment, and adaptation to climate-related health impacts.