Pune: Scientists from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will monitor climatic conditions which may cause outbreaks of vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria in the country.
Speaking during a session of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF-12) held at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) on Friday, Ramesh Dhiman, senior consultant from the National Institute of Malaria Research, ICMR, Delhi, said pilot projects have started to keep a track of rainfall.
“The idea is to use this forecast and analyse the threshold, after which there can be an outbreak of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. While doing this, we have to measure the threshold, which may vary from place to place and also the lag period. The terrain across the country varies, so does the soil type. Hence, the threshold will be different at different places,” said Dhiman.
During an outbreak, Dhiman added, the number of cases increase more than two-fold the existing number. He added that this has to be studied from place to place and then decide the threshold for rains, after which it could be predicted whether there can be a dengue or malaria outbreak.
“Utilising data about the rise in a number of cases after a certain amount of rainfall in the past could help us in this project. In Pune, malaria is not a problem. However, there are a large number of dengue cases. So during the pilot project, the focus will be on the outbreak-prone districts, through which an early warning system for vector-borne diseases can be developed,” said Dhiman.
Talking about such projects, KJ Ramesh, Director General of Meteorology, said temperature and humidity changes will be monitored to see if that can result in an outbreak.
“We have an early warning system for heat waves. The authorities act quickly and the number of deaths due to heat wave is reduced. Similarly, our role will be to monitor weather conditions conducive for vector-borne diseases. If early measures are taken by the authorities, the prevalence of these diseases can be checked,” said Ramesh.