When SCO's health projects become references

Published on 27/11/2023
Proof that an operational link can be created between satellites and health, the ClimHealth project has seen its LeptoYangon demonstrator selected as a case study by the WMO for its modelling of environmental conditions conducive to the emergence of leptospirosis. Earlier in the year, the Arbocarto application was referenced by the French public authorities to prevent arbovirosis.

ClimHealth: early warning for seasonal diseases

Some diseases are seasonal, linked to environmental factors such as vegetation, rainfall, floods or droughts - data that can be captured by satellite. Given the potential of a tool using satellite data to create an early warning system, in 2020 the SCO approved the ClimHealth project, led by researchers from the IRD-UMR Espace-Dev and the University of Reunion. Initially, the researchers were able to finalize their first demonstrator, LeptoYangon, an online platform designed to prevent leptospirosis in the Yangon metropolitan area in Myanmar.

LeptoYangon interface

◀︎ Calibrated on the basis of surveillance data, LeptoYangon generates a risk map as soon as a new Sentinel-2 image is available, i.e. every five days or so. The tool is designed for epidemiologists and doctors, who can visualize the areas most at risk and consult vegetation, water and humidity indicators. © IRD/Contains modified Copernicus Data

👉 Test LeptoYangon yourself:

👉 Find out more about LeptoYangon and its features in our news story ClimHealth step 1 : the demonstrator is online.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a specialised agency of the United Nations, has taken note of this tool and used it as a case study in its report no. 1335 "2023 State of Climate Services: Health" (see page 50, Case Study 5).
The report states in its preamble that "Climate change undermines health determinants1 and increases pressures on health systems. […]Tailored climate products and services can enhance the evidence and information available to health sector partners to detect, monitor, predict and manage climate-related health risks. Examples of where health sector partners are successfully using climate information and services are illustrated in the Case studies".

With its sights set on a more generic system, and still with the support of its SCO label, the team has produced the ClimHealth demonstrator, whose codes are open source. For the moment, it focuses on Thailand, but the technical building blocks are in place to deploy this early warning system in any location and for any seasonal disease. What's more, the project team is working to build bridges with DHIS2, the most widely used health surveillance system in the world and is continuing to study what other data and indices could improve their tool. It is also involved in the Cambodia component of the international PREZODE initiative.

ClimHealth Interface

◀︎ Redesigned to offer maximum flexibility, the generic ClimHealth interface works on Thailand with more than 20 diseases correlated with environmental factors. Epidemiologists can navigate through the data and generate hypotheses by comparing their data with other variables. © IRD

👉 Test ClimHealth:

Arbocarto : predicting population densities of Aedes mosquitoes

Another project that became operational thanks to the SCO label also won recognition from the public health authorities in 2023: Arbocarto-V2. This fully operational application uses satellite data to predict Aedes mosquito population densities. The tool is already being used in several regions to organize the fight against these mosquitoes, which carry viruses - arbovirosis - such as dengue fever and malaria.


▲ Example of predictive mapping of adult mosquito abundance in Guadeloupe. © Arbocarto

In mainland France, faced with a 4.5-fold increase in imported cases of arbovirosis between 2015 and 2019, the Health Risk Watch and Anticipation Committee (COVARS Comité de Veille et d'Anticipation des Risques Sanitaires) has been consulted. In its "Opinion on the health risks of dengue and other Aedes arboviroses in relation to climate change" (in French), published on 3 April 2023, COVARS identified the ARBOCARTO software for recording data and monitoring mosquito populations.
Just as the WMO points to the influence of climate change, this report states that "it probably favors the expansion of vectors, better survival of Aedes females, an increase in the number of generations and a longer period of annual activity, an increase in mosquito populations, more rapid development of infectious agents in the mosquito body, and an increase in human-vector contact, all of which increase the health risk".

👉 Find out more about Arbocarto-V2 in our news item "Aedes take care!", an interview with the software's creators.

👉 On 1st July 2023, the team published its "ARBOCARTO-V3 Project Report", which now incorporates a module for calculating the basic reproduction rate (R0) for the dengue virus.