New project will use data to predict and prepare for future dengue outbreaks

DART (Dengue Advanced Readiness Tools) is one of 24 newly-funded projects that will use climate data and other types of data to better predict and prepare for infectious disease outbreaks.

Ho Chi Minh City, Friday, February 3, 2023 Today, Wellcome announced £22.7 million in funding for 24 research teams in 12 countries to develop innovative digital tools to model the relationship between climate change and infectious disease. OUCRU and Oxford University’s DART (Dengue Advanced Readiness Tools) project is among the awardees.

DART’s multidisciplinary team aims to connect meteorological, hydrological, entomological, human behaviour and epidemiological data to provide a dengue forecasting and data visualisation resource for clinicians and public health officials as well the general public. The tool will be flexible to adapt to the needs of each stakeholder group.

The project will concentrate on two case study cities, the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, which has been experiencing the emergence of dengue fever over the past 2 decades, and Ho Chi Minh City, which has yearly seasonal epidemics of varying size.

Dengue is the most abundant human vector-borne disease in the world, causing a huge impact on public health services in endemic areas. In Vietnam, dengue is the number one cause of admission to hospitals and ICUs, especially during the rainy season. The number of dengue infections has been consistently increasing over the past three decades, along with the geographical range of the mosquito vector driven by globalisation, climate change, and poorly planned urbanisation.

The project will bring together a community of relevant experts on climate, computer science and infectious diseases, involving scientists from the University of Oxford alongside Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi. Dr Sarah Sparrow, Professors Min Chen and David Wallom are Principal Investigators, and Associate Professor Sophie Yacoub and Dr Marc Choisy are Co-Principal Investigators in Vietnam.

Marc Choisy and Sophie Yacoub, Co-Principal Investigators of DART Project, stress that “the ability to do short-term forecasting of dengue outbreaks at high spatial resolution would be extremely useful, not only for public health officials to guide vector control initiatives and community engagement but also for hospitals surge capacity.”

DART project is a part of Wellcome-supported global research to advance solutions to address urgent health threats, with funding for 24 research teams in 12 countries around the world to develop innovative digital tools to model the relationship between climate change and infectious disease. The £22.7 million funding will allow these projects will address critical gaps in understanding where and when deadly disease outbreaks are likely to occur, helping policy-makers to plan ahead, prepare

healthcare systems and increase treatment accessibility and resources, and respond rapidly with targeted and efficient public health measures, saving more lives.

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