Innovation That Matters

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Digital tools to forecast climate-sensitive diseases 

Health & Wellbeing

A research project is seeking to slow the spread of viruses that are exacerbated by climate change

Spotted: Researchers predict that increased temperatures from climate change make it likely that some of the world’s most contagious viruses, such as Zika and dengue, will spread rapidly and widely, with one article highlighting that, “within the next century, nearly a billion people could face their first exposure to viral transmission in the worst-case scenario, mainly in Europe and high-elevation tropical and subtropical regions.” 

The Wellcome Trust is providing £22.7 million in funding to 24 projects around the world in order to better prepare policymakers and governments for future scenarios of danger to public health. One of those projects is the University of Liverpool’s CLIMate SEnsitive DISease Forecasting Tool (CLIMSEDIS), which is being tested in the Horn of Africa. Led by Dr Louise Kelly-Hope from the University’s Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences, the digital forecasting tool identifies climate combinations that are particularly risky for the spread of mosquito-borne disease. 

Once a risk has been identified, the tool alerts users to the location and level of risk, allowing partner agencies and organisations to begin collaborating on the swiftest, most efficient means of containing the spread. The university team is working closely with partners from Ethiopia, Italy, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda to make the tool as easy as possible to use and to design the digital forecasts to be timely enough to be truly helpful in creating targeted rapid response interventions to halt the spread of a disease.  

CLIMSEDIS is free to use and designed specifically to better represent the environmental health risks facing the often under-represented global south. Before the start of the project, Wellcome research found that only 37 tools were available worldwide “for climate-sensitive infectious disease (CSID) modelling” and most focused only on Europe and North America.  

The projects will run for five years, with tool development an early focus of the project, which will be followed by scale up and use across communities and finally evaluation of effectiveness. All software will be open source to allow for future development needs and improvements.  

From needle-free immunizations to 3D-printed vaccines, innovations in Springwise’s library highlight the diversity of efforts bringing healthcare to some of the world’s most at-risk environments and communities.  

Written By: Keely Khoury

Email: contact-IVES@liverpool.ac.uk

Website: liverpool.ac.uk/infection-veterinary-and-ecological-sciences

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