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VN to forecast dengue from space

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A technician examines mosquito samples at Hanoi’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Vietnam. NHAC NGUYEN/AFP

VN to forecast dengue from space

Dengue fever epidemics in Vietnam could be forecast up to eight months in advance by a new satellite-based, early warning system.

This system, known as D-Moss, is being developed by a consortium led by HR Wallingford and sponsored by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme.

D-MOSS is developing a forecasting system in which earth observation datasets are combined with weather forecasts to predict the likelihood of future dengue epidemics.

The project, which started in Vietnam last year, aims to develop an operational early warning system to improve dengue prevention and increase control capacity.

It creates a better understanding of the relationships between environmental stressors, the hydrological-climate system and human health.

The project also estimates the likelihood and severity of future dengue outbreaks under a range of climate change scenarios up to 2100.

Preventive Medicine General Department deputy head Dang Quang Tan said dengue fever caused global losses of about $9 billion annually.

In Vietnam, the disease placed a huge burden on preventive healthcare service due to high rates of infection and deaths, Tan said.

“Since 2000, the number of dengue fever cases increased by 100 per cent. In 2017, the country had a serious outbreak with 17,000 infected cases and 38 deaths,” Tan said at a workshop reviewing the project co-held on Monday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organisation and Vietnam’s Ministry of Health.

“The information shared by countries contributed to coping with the borderless dengue fever epidemic in the region in the context of climate change,” he said.

Speaking at the workshop, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Sitara Syed said: “As climate was changing rapidly, dengue would tend to change dramatically as it is highly sensitive to temperature, humidity and rainfall.”

“Water availability directly impacted dengue epidemics due to mosquito breeding sites. However, water availability or water resource management was rarely accounted for in dengue prediction models,” she said.

The fight against dengue required co-operation among countries and regions to ensure the best information, experiences and creative tools were shared in time, she said.

For any country, existing tools needed to be supplemented with innovative ones to help control and minimise the disease spread, she added.

Representatives of Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka attended the workshop to share experiences of their fights against the disease.

On Monday, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health also held a meeting on preventive measures for the winter-spring epidemic.

Winter and spring is a favourable time for many infectious diseases to develop, according to Tan.

“The epidemics would spread easily and widely if there are no drastic preventive measures,” he warned.

THE VIET NAM NEWS/ANN

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