Weather Company data leveraged in fight against malaria

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A global partnership is coming together to explore how weather data and analytics can help halt the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, in particular malaria.

The partnership, known as Forecasting Healthy Futures, will use forecast data to produce heat maps and dashboards that can help predict, control and eliminate mosquito-borne diseases.

Bringing together a diverse range of groups including non-profits, government agencies and meteorology companies – including The Weather Company – the partnership was announced last month by Martin Edlund, CEO at the non-profit Malaria No More.

The importance of weather data in the fight against malaria has been given added urgency because of climate change.

Even a small rise in global temperatures will result in a heightened malaria risk since mosquitoes thrive in warm and wet environments.

The World Health Organization estimates that climate change could increase global deaths from malaria by 60,000 each year between 2030 and 2050. However, speaking at a recent global development summit, Edlund said concerns about the impact of climate change could be turned in to meaningful action.

Edlund told the Devex ‘Prescription for Progress’ event in San Francisco, California, “There is a lot of diagnosis of problems at the intersection of climate and health. There’s a lot of hand-wringing about these problems. But we see an opportunity to turn a corner and actually find solutions.”

As an example, Edlund pointed to an initiative in the Indian state of Odisha where weather data is being used to help plan the timing and intensity of malaria intervention campaigns before the monsoon season. The initiative has helped bring about an 84% decline in malaria cases in Odisha over the past two years, Edlund said.

He also mentioned a partnership between Malaria No More, The Weather Company and the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, a major provider of funds for neglected tropical diseases.

The partnership, for which the Crown Prince Court has promised US$1.5m in seed funding over two years, would combine The Weather Company data with other datasets to strengthen programs for managing mosquito-borne disease.

The IBM-owned forecast firm has already launched a mosquito index to indicate the impact of temperature, rainfall and windspeeds on the activity of mosquitoes.

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