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Published: 2021-03-30

Modelling for global health

PROFILE Maquines Odhiambo Sewe, Senior research engineer involved in several projects both here in Umeå and with other collaborators around the world. He is currently running Climate impact model simulations used in the computation of the dengue vulnerability indicators that Umeå University contributes to the Lancet Countdown on climate change and health.

Text: Linnéa Höök
Image: Privat

Tell us more about yourself, your background and education! What did you do before you started working at Umeå University?

- I am originally from Western part of Kenya. Currently I work as a senior research engineer at Umeå University and before as post-doctoral researcher. Prior to this, I worked for over 8 years as researcher in the public health research collaboration between Kenya Medical Research Institute and US Center for Disease Control (KEMRI/CDC) in Kisumu. For six years I worked with the demographic and health surveillance project and two years with the HIV/AIDS research project. I used the data from the demographic surveillance for my PhD studies in Epidemiology and Global Health at Umeå University where my thesis research involved building climate driven malaria early warning system. I obtained masters in Biostatistics from Ibadan University in Nigeria and BSc Mathematics from Nairobi University in Kenya.

Tell us more about your research!

I am an epidemiologist and modeler in Professor Joacim Rocklöv's lab at Umeå University researching the nexus of global health, environmental epidemiology and infectious disease epidemiology. I mainly focus on modelling spatio-temporal patterns of infectious diseases with an aim of developing climate driven predictive models suitable for early warning systems. Specifically, I apply these methods to assess climate change and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) in Sweden in collaboration with ECDC. I am also engaged in modelling climate and environmental change future impacts on health contributing to inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC) and WHO assessments, and part of the second working group of the Lancet Countdown of climate change and health at Umeå University.

In addition, I am part of several international research projects and collaborates on several Swedish funded research projects on arboviruses and climate change. For example, I have collaborated with WHO TDR on dengue EWARS early warning project for a number of years and actively involved in developing and maintaining the current shiny based early warning web-dashboard solution for the EWARS community.

What is relevant right now?

 - Currently, the focus is on the Lancet Countdown on climate change and health indicators for the 2021 report and analysis of Climate change and tick-borne encephalitis in Sweden. The Lancet Countdown on climate change and health tracks how climate change impacts on public health outcomes, for example its impact on the transmission of arboviral diseases such as dengue with high burden, an indicator we assess here at Umeå University.

It also tracks current and future impact of warming climate on for example, food security, vulnerability to heat exposure, productivity loss and exposure to extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change like floods, wildfires etc. Besides it also tracks adaption and resilience strategies to the warming planet such as use of air conditioner. Within the countdown, countries policies towards carbon emission reductions are also tracked e.g use of coal.

About the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change

Climate change is the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century, but it is also the greatest opportunity to redefine the social and environmental determinants of health. In 2015, countries committed to limit global warming to “well below 2°C” as part of the landmark Paris Agreement. The annual Countdown report provides an independent assessment of progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, and represents the findings and consensus of 35 leading academic institutions and UN agencies.

What has been the biggest challenges during Covid-19 in your work?

- Even though most of my work can be done remotely, I miss the everyday stimulating interactions and conversations with my colleagues at the office, especially over fika.

Short facts about Sewe

Name: Dr. Maquines Odhiambo Sewe
Title: Senior research engineer
Age: 39
Family: A wife and two boys, 9 and 4 years old
Favourite quote: "Genius is 1 % inspiration and 99% perspiration"
What i do when i have a day off: Running or cykling


Maquines Odhiambo Sewe
Senior research engineer