Climate change is causing mosquitoes to spread to areas previously unaffected by diseases like dengue fever. The threat of a possible outbreak in mainland Europe is now very real: local transmission was reported for the first time in France and Croatia in 2010, and an outbreak on the Madeira islands of Portugal in 2012 resulted in more than 2,000 cases. Against this backdrop, and in addition to the core D-MOSS capabilities of forecasting dengue, the D-MOSS models can be used to investigate the effects of a range of climate change scenarios on this increasingly worrying disease.
The Vietnamese experience has confirmed that the system is reliable, cost-effective, and can be easily replicated elsewhere, at a range of different scales. It has enabled HR Wallingford to develop new post-processing techniques for EO data products, as well as has underlining the value of strong stakeholder engagement. Gina Tsarouchi says that while working with so many other organisations brought its own challenges, the process added a huge amount to the project. ‘We were able to see things from different perspectives, and in the end that’s what brings the innovation. For me it’s been incredibly useful, working across different nationalities, cultures and sectors. I think it’s been really educational for everyone.” Quillon Harpham agrees. “This is the first time I’ve worked with epidemiologists. Understanding their terminology and their issues has been very useful.”
D-MOSS has now been launched in Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and HR Wallingford is in talks with a number of other countries in South East Asia. The system has been recognised with multiple awards. The most gratifying aspect of the work though, says Quillon, is seeing D-MOSS in action across South East Asia, with its potential to benefit millions of people. “The system will continue to develop and improve: new data is coming out all the time, and if it adds value to D-MOSS, we can incorporate it.”
The World Health Organization predicts that if global warming continues at current rates, the dengue transmission season could be extended by four months over the next 50 years. While our political leaders continue to grapple with how to deal with the impacts of climate change, it’s great to know that D-MOSS is already helping to save lives and reduce the disease burden of dengue.