IMD to give weather data for forecasting malaria

New Delhi: The IMD, the ICMR and Malaria No More, an NGO, are collaborating to create a multi-disciplinary India Interagency Expert Committee (IEC) on Malaria and Climate to explore and advance climate-based solutions for accelerating the elimination of the vector-borne disease from the country.

IMD Director General Mrutunjay Mohapatra said the MeT department will be providing weather data for issuing malaria forecasts. A pilot project has been started in Odisha, he added.

“Malaria No More, a non-governmental organisation, collaborates with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in creating a multi-disciplinary India Interagency Expert Committee on Malaria and Climate (IEC) to explore and advance climate-based solutions for accelerating malaria elimination in India,” a statement issued by the NGO said.

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“Malaria is one of India’s most pressing health concerns. By combining meteorological information with the information from the health sector, we can examine micro-trends and predict malaria patterns, and accelerate our national progress towards its elimination. The Interagency Expert Committee announced today will function as a highly effective platform to accomplish this objective,” it added.

The NGO’s weather-based forecasting model is designed to produce data-driven solutions to guide the planning of national malaria prevention campaigns, test and treatment interventions, advanced positioning of medical products, and the deployment of community health workers.

The forecasting model uses advanced weather data, health information and deep-learning algorithms, and produces practical visualisation outputs for local decision-making in the pilot districts of Koraput and Malkangiri in Odisha, the statement added.

Manju Rahi, Deputy Director General of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, ICMR, said the impact of climate change has emerged as a major threat to the very existence of the human race.

Vector-borne diseases such as malaria are priority targets for action in the health-climate agenda. The relations between these diseases and the climate variables have been extensively studied in the past and it is time to apply this evidence to design programmatic solutions to accelerate the country’s progress against these diseases, she said.

The IEC brings together some of the leading experts and researchers from the fields of health, climate and technology, and would serve as an effective platform to co-design the most feasible and useful applications of climate-based forecasting of diseases such as malaria in the Indian context.

It will focus on improving models like the one Malaria No More has developed in Odisha, which uses a multi-stakeholders and interdisciplinary approach to identify and prioritise areas of scalable and sustainable impact to improve malaria control and prevention.

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