UC to devise GIS-based system to counter spread of dengue

October 02, 2016

A geographic information system-based dengue surveillance and epidemiology, the first in the country, will be piloted in Baguio in a bid to further improve government health care response to dengue fever.

The Cordillera Health Research and Development Consortium announced Thursday that the University of the Cordilleras will be developing a GIS-based analysis of dengue fever cases in Baguio.

Development will commence this month and ends in October 2017. Patients tested positive for dengue fever in Baguio over the past five years will be the primary respondents of the study.

The use of GIS in public health is recognized worldwide especially in Canada, which uses one of the best applications of GIS in disease surveillance and epidemiology.

In partnership with different higher learning institutions, the Department of Science and Technology-CRHRDC and the Department of Health-Cordillera, the GIS system will provide healthcare providers a holistic and scientific data in their course of analyzing disease patterns.

Under the proposed project, the GIS system will show disease spread patterns, identify areas with high incidence of dengue fever cases and tele-medicine, which means quantifying populations and health care availability when distance separates patients and healthcare providers.

The system will also identify areas of infectious and potential risks of new diseases, and find out the geographic, environmental, and human causes.

The system will also forecast and help health officials and healthcare providers in planning to combat emerging diseases and establishment of special treatment centers.

DOH representatives suggested some variables to be integrated in the GIS system such as the terrain, presence of bodies of water, and weather patterns, as dengue-carrying mosquitoes have adapted to any type of environment.

Dengue-carrying mosquitoes can now survive in extremely cold and high temperature ranging from below 16 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius.

Breeding sites of mosquitoes are no longer only found in clean stagnant water but also in cleaner portions of murky water while mosquitoes also thrive even during summer. In the past, dengue cases are mostly recorded during the rainy season.

Since January this year, the DOH-CAR recorded 8,558 dengue fever cases with 20 deaths.

Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet have five deaths each, followed by Apayao with three; while Abra, Ifugao, and Kalinga have two deaths each. One non-CAR resident died in a hospital in Baguio.

The city government is expected to be the first LGU to adopt a GIS-based system of plotting dengue trends and patterns. The system will be crucial in evaluating policies and programs to combat dengue fever and other emerging diseases in the future.

The project will be funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.

Published in the Baguio Midland Courier issued October 2, 2016 | Article & Photo by Harley F. Palangchao

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