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Early Health Warning System

  • 22 Dec 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is developing an unique Early Health Warning System which is expected to forecast the possibility of disease outbreaks in the country.

Key Points

  • About:
    • The model being developed is based on the relationship between weather changes and incidence.
    • There are certain diseases where weather patterns play a crucial role.
      • Such as malaria, for which particular temperatures and rainfall patterns can approximately predict whether an area is likely to have an outbreak with fairly reasonable accuracy

Early Health Warning System

  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), early warning systems are timely surveillance systems that collect information on epidemic-prone diseases in order to trigger prompt public health interventions.
  • However, these systems rarely apply statistical methods to detect changes in trends, or sentinel events that would require intervention.
  • In most cases they rely on an in-depth review done by epidemiologists of the data coming in, which is rarely done in a systematic way.
    • Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states and events in specified populations.
  • Significance:
    • It is expected to predict outbreaks of vector-borne diseases, particularly malaria and diarrhoea. Subsequently, it is likely to monitor non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as well.
      • Vectors are organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person (or animal) to another, causing serious diseases in human populations. For example, Chikungunya, Malaria, Dengue, Yellow fever, Lymphatic filariasis, Chagas disease, etc.
      • Vector-borne diseases have direct links to weather patterns.
      • NCDs are affected by weather conditions. For example, cardiovascular problems and respiratory diseases are associated with rising heat waves and environmental pollution.
    • Such a system, when deployed, would give local authorities ample time to prepare.
  • Analysis and Studies:
    • To verify the robustness of the advance warning system, a detailed analysis was carried out of malaria and diarrhoea cases in two districts of Maharashtra, Pune and Nagpur.
      • While both districts have incidences of both diseases, Nagpur reports a higher number of malaria cases while diarrhoea cases are higher in Pune.
    • Temporal and spatial variability in weather parameters, for example, a short-term increase in temperature and rainfall as an effect of El-Niño can lead to malaria epidemics.
    • A study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that climate change may increase the risk of diarrhoeal diseases, which is of major concern in developing countries, with increasing incidents of floods as well as drought.
    • On Covid-19:
      • Although there have been studies and analysis on weather patterns affecting the spread of viral diseases, researchers are unable to establish a certain link between Covid-19 pandemic and the weather as it is a far more complex disease.

Source: IE

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