Committee to focus on:
- Defining potential application of climate-based malaria forecasting tailored to the Indian context
- Improving sophisticated forecasting models to produce data-driven solutions at national scale
- Prioritizing the intersections between climate and malaria in the broader climate-health agenda
New Delhi, June 14, 2021 – Malaria No More, a non-governmental organization, 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.
Since 2000, India has made steady progress towards achieving PM Modi’s goal of malaria elimination by 2030. As malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases are highly influenced by weather and weather events, the new committee brings together – for the first time – leading experts and researchers from health, climate and technology fields to define and operationalize sophisticated climate-based malaria prediction tools that will be tailored to the Indian context to further propel progress toward the 2030 goal.
On this occasion, Dr. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Director General of Meteorology, IMD, Government of India said, “We are excited to identify a new, multidisciplinary application for our high-quality climate data services. 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.”
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Manju Rahi, Scientist F and Deputy Director General of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, ICMR, Government of India said, “The impact of climate change has emerged as a major threat to the very existence of human race. At the Indian Council of Medical Research, we are working to combat the climate-sensitive diseases through a concerted national strategic action focused on climate and health. Vector borne diseases like Malaria are priority targets for action in the health-climate agenda. The relations between these disease and the climate variables have been extensively studied in the past, and it is time to apply these evidences to design programmatic solutions to accelerate India’s progress against these diseases. The Interagency Expert Committee announced today brings together some of the leading experts and researchers from the field 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 like Malaria in Indian context. At ICMR, we are excited to join this platform to provide the scientific rigour quintessential to develop robust and scalable use cases to combat the vector borne diseases.”
The IEC will focus on improving models like the one Malaria No More developed in Odisha state, which uses a multi-stakeholders and interdisciplinary approach to identify and prioritize areas of scalable and sustainable impact to improve malaria control and prevention.
Malaria No More’s weather-based prediction model is designed to produce data-driven solutions to guide 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 visualization outputs for local decision-making in the pilot districts of Koraput and Malkangiri in Odisha.
In response to the news, Dr. Kaushik Sarkar, India Country Director (in-charge), Malaria No More, stated “Combining climate and malaria data with new technologies and sophisticated machine learning models offers new opportunities to time and target proven malaria interventions geographically, for cost-effectiveness and improved control. This expert committee will help ensure feasibility and functionality of data for decision making to improve India’s malaria control and prevention efforts. We also hope the IEC will serve as a model for other high-burden malaria countries to adopt as they identify innovative solutions to accelerate progress against this preventable but deadly disease.”
The IEC’s launch is part of a global initiative – Forecasting Healthy Futures – to develop weather data-informed strategies and policies to improve health outcomes and accelerate progress against malaria and other deadly mosquito-borne diseases.
About Malaria No More India
Malaria No More (MNM) envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. To support India’s historic drive to eliminate malaria by 2030, MNM has been implementing its Malaria No More India programme with partners at the national level to mobilize the necessary political will, funding and innovation. MNM’s Strategic Support Unit also works at the state level, providing technical management support to the malaria programme in Odisha, once India’s state with the highest burden of malaria.
About Forecasting Healthy Futures
Convened by Malaria No More, Forecasting Healthy Futures is a unique group of global health, technology and public sector partners coming together to develop weather data-informed strategies and policies to improve health outcomes and accelerate progress against malaria and other deadly mosquito-borne diseases. By harnessing weather data, governments and partners can turn weather obstacles into opportunities. Partners include the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court’s Reaching the Last Mile initiative; The Weather Company, an IBM Business; PATH; the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; and, the Tableau Foundation.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Kaushik Sarkar
Malaria No More India Technical Director and Interim Country Director