‘Forecasting Healthy Futures’ initiative to tackle malaria launched

Abu Dhabi, A unique group of global health, technology and public sector organisations on Tuesday launched ‘Forecasting Healthy Futures’ to improve health outcomes and accelerate progress against deadly mosquito-borne diseases.The new initiative – conv…

Abu Dhabi, A unique group of global health, technology and public sector organisations on Tuesday launched 'Forecasting Healthy Futures' to improve health outcomes and accelerate progress against deadly mosquito-borne diseases.

The new initiative - convened by Malaria No More - will develop weather data-informed strategies and policies to help governments and partners better time and target effective health interventions in the face of changing weather patterns and an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, the UAE news agency WAM reported.

Mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika, are a major global health challenge affecting 340 million people annually, with the world's most marginalised populations disproportionately impacted. These diseases are climate-sensitive, with changing weather patterns introducing new challenges in efforts to effectively prevent, control and eliminate them.

Harnessing weather data to better fight mosquito-borne disease could be revolutionary in protecting the world's most vulnerable, especially pregnant women and children, from deadly diseases like malaria and dengue, Mona Hammami, Senior Director, Office of Strategic Affairs to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, said.

To tackle disease eradication faster, we need to focus on innovations that take a multi-disciplinary approach, leveraging the intersections between health and areas like technology and climate change to bring fresh voices into the conversation.

Announced at the Devex conference, 'Prescription for Progress: Bringing Health Solutions to Scale', Forecasting Healthy Futures launched with $1.5 million in seed funding from Reaching the Last Mile, an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, which also will provide technical expertise from across its networks.

Malaria No More, PATH and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, IHME, will add their health expertise as well as programmatic and policy guidance.

Other partners include the Tableau Foundation that will provide financial support, software licences and training to boost data analytics and data visualisation capabilities.

IBM's The Weather Company will also take part, providing data sets on weather conditions related to mosquito activity and proliferation.

As we look to end malaria within a generation, we need to turn weather-related obstacles into opportunities, Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More, said.

This means going beyond mitigating the effects climate change has on mosquito-borne disease prevalence to harnessing weather-related data and strategies to accelerate progress against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.

According to WAM, to help improve public health, Forecasting Healthy Futures will create new data systems and strategies by integrating weather and mosquito population data sets with existing disease risk, intervention coverage, supply chain and epidemiological data sets.

Using the data sets, the initiative will work closely with state and national health programs in malaria-affected countries to identify research needs around the impact of changing weather patterns and to develop evidence-based systems that strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of mosquito-borne disease management programmes.

The initiative also will document and share best practices to inform global policy, political and funding decisions and to foster information sharing and collaboration among data, weather and health professionals in the public and private sectors. Another initiative goal is to inform policy dialogues around addressing the intersection of infectious disease, changing weather patterns and climate change.

Source: Bahrain News Agency