NEW INITIATIVE, “FORECASTING HEALTHY FUTURES,” WILL HARNESS WEATHER DATA TO HELP DEFEAT MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASE


Malaria No More, Reaching the Last Mile Global Health InitiativePATH, the Institute for Health Metrics and EvaluationTableau Foundation and IBM’s The Weather Company combine expertise, data and technology to improve timing and targeting of life-saving health interventions 

San Francisco20 February 2020 – A unique group of global health, technology and public sector organizations today launched Forecasting Healthy Futures to improve health outcomes and accelerate progress against deadly mosquito-borne diseases. The new initiative—convened by Malaria No More—will develop weather data-informed strategies and policies to help governments and partners better time and target effective health interventions in the face of changing weather patterns and an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events. 

Mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika, are a major global health challenge affecting 340 million people annually, with the world’s most marginalized populations disproportionately impacted. These diseases are climate-sensitive: changing weather patterns are introducing new challenges in efforts to effectively prevent, control and eliminate them. 

“Harnessing weather data to better fight mosquito-borne disease could be revolutionary in protecting the world’s most vulnerable, especially pregnant women and children, from deadly diseases like malaria and dengue,” said Mona Hammami, Senior Director, Office of Strategic Affairs to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court. “To tackle disease eradication faster, we need to focus on innovations that take a multi-disciplinary approach, leveraging the intersections between health and areas like technology and climate change to bring fresh voices into the conversation.” 

Announced at the Devex “Prescription for Progress: Bringing Health Solutions To Scale,” conference, Forecasting Healthy Futures launched with US$1.5 million in seed funding from Reaching the Last Mile, an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, which also will provide technical expertise from across its networks. Malaria No More, PATH and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) will add their health expertise as well as programmatic and policy guidance. The Tableau Foundation is providing financial support, software licenses and training to boost data analytics and data visualization capabilities. IBM’s The Weather Company will provide data sets on weather conditions related to mosquito activity and proliferation, as well as analytical support.  

“As we look to end malaria within a generation, we need to turn weather-related obstacles into opportunities,” said Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More. “This means going beyond mitigating the effects climate change has on mosquito-borne disease prevalence to harnessing weather-related data and strategies to accelerate progress against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.” 

To help improve public health, Forecasting Healthy Futures will create new data systems and strategies by integrating weather and mosquito population data sets with existing disease risk, intervention coverage, supply chain and epidemiological data sets.  

“We believe leveraging weather and climate data from IBM’s The Weather Company along with advanced analytics can help create deeper insights, lead to better-informed decisions, and even help accelerate progress against mosquito-borne disease associated with rising temperatures and extreme weather events around the world,” said Natalie Dawe, global health leader for IBM Corporate Social Responsibility.  

Across the initiative, partners will work closely with national and state vector-borne disease control programs in malaria-affected countries, as well as donor governments and global policymakers, to identify research needs around the impact of changing weather patterns. They also will use the data sets to develop evidence-based systems that strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of mosquito-borne disease management programs.  

“Building capacity in data analysis, data visualization and data for decision making at all levels of the health system greatly improves the ability to optimally time and target disease interventions. Incorporating weather data has the potential to sharpen these approaches,” said Kammerle Schneider, director of Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases at PATH.  

Based on initial outcomes, the initiative will seek the support of donor governments and global health agencies to rapidly scale weather data integration into mosquito-borne disease management programs and health education efforts that cover hundreds of millions of people in malaria-affected countries around the world.  

Forecasting Healthy Futures builds on learnings from programs supported by partners involved in the new initiative—one in Odisha State, India, and others in sub-Saharan Africa. In Odisha State, in 2017-2018, the government dramatically scaled up efforts before the monsoon season to proactively diagnose and treat malaria at the village level, thereby substantially reducing parasite levels. The state recorded an 84% drop in malaria cases over a two-year period. Visualize No Malaria, co-led by PATH and Tableau Foundation in close partnership with National Malaria Elimination Programs across Africa, has used real-time data and provided thousands of health workers with data literacy trainings and new tools to develop a comprehensive malaria surveillance system. The platform has helped local health personnel understand where, when and how to intervene to have the greatest impact. 

“Just as we’ve done with our Visualize No Malaria programs with PATH in Senegal and Zambia, Tableau Foundation’s software and data analytics capabilities will enable people on the frontlines to make more-informed decisions about how to prevent and protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people from mosquito-borne disease,” said Neal Myrick, Global Head, Tableau Foundation.  

In addition, Forecasting Healthy Futures will learn from responses to extreme weather events, such as Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, and from mass seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaigns that typically coincide with a country’s rainy season.  

“Weather data is critical to PMI efforts,” said Dr. Kenneth Staley, Global Malaria Coordinator with the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). “We look forward to following the development of the Forecasting Healthy Futures initiative, sharing best practices, and working with PMI partner countries to use weather data to accelerate progress against malaria.” 

The initiative also will document and share best practices to inform global policy, political and funding decisions and to foster information-sharing and collaboration among data, weather and health professionals in the public and private sectors. Another initiative goal is to inform policy dialogues around addressing the intersection of infectious disease, changing weather patterns and climate change. 

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About Malaria No More 

Malaria no More envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. More than a decade into our mission, our work has contributed to historic progress toward this goal. Now, we’re mobilizing the political commitment, funding, and innovation required to achieve what would be one of the greatest humanitarian accomplishments – ending malaria within our generation. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org.  

About Reaching the Last Mile Global Health Initiative 

The Reaching the Last Mile Global Health Initiative is a portfolio of global health commitments managed by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court.  The Initiative focuses on programs which provide treatment and preventative care in communities that lack access to quality health services, with a specific focus on reaching the last mile of disease elimination. Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is committed to ending preventable diseases that affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities and helping millions of children and adults live healthy, dignified lives.  https://www.reachingthelastmile.com/, @RLMGlobalHealth 

About PATH 

PATH is a global team of innovators working to accelerate health equity so all people and communities can thrive. PATH advises and partners with institutions, investors, and businesses of all sizes to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges. Because better health moves humanity forward. Learn more at www.PATH.org.   

About Tableau Foundation 

The Tableau Foundation is a philanthropic initiative arm of Tableau Software that encourages the use of facts and analytical reasoning to solve the world’s problems. Tableau Foundation grants combine Tableau’s two most valuable resources – its people and its products – with financial support to nonprofits that are using data to reshape communities around the globe. To learn more, please visit www.tableaufoundation.org.  

About IHME 

Established in 2007, The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME is committed to transparency and makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions on allocating resources to improve population health. Visit: www.healthdata.org

Media contacts: 

Malaria No More – Michal Fishman, michal.fishman@malarianomore.org + 1 504 220 2792 

Reaching the Last Mile Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court – Colleen McMillen, colleenmcmillen@gmail.com, +1 917.344.9360  

PATH – Lindsay Bosslett, lbosslet@path.org  

Tableau Foundation – Steve Schwartz, sschwartz@tableau.com + 1 206 410 3003 

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