A phone-based early warning system can forecast in which region dengue fever will spread. The idea of this effective technology is just as simple as inexpensive and has been tested successfully for the first time in Pakistan.
Registered notifications of acute dengue fever incidents in the Pakistani city of Lahore via a simple phone-based helpline facility have been combined with local weather data to be able to make further predictions. Based on this data, an international team of scientists developed a fine-grained dengue forecast, to be able to say when and where more dengue cases could accumulate in the city.
A comparison with the actually registered incidents confirmed the predictability of how many people will be affected by dengue in which district, in a time window of up to two to three weeks ahead.
This telephone-based forecast for predicting future, local outbreaks now enables regionally specific interventions, such as the preventive targeted elimination of mosquito populations to forestall the spread of dengue.
Conventional early warning systems had previously only sent premonitions for a city or even a state. But preventive measures for large geographical units are very expensive, especially for developing countries and therefore are just as hard to finance and sustained as the collection of nationwide health data.
Nabeel Abdur Rehman et al. Fine-grained dengue forecasting using telephone triage services. Science Advances, July 2016 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501215. Available via: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/advances/2/7/e1501215.full.pdf