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Published: 2023-10-02

New tools against climate-driven diseases in Europe

NEWS An international research team in the IDAlert project proposes a series of tools to face climate-sensitive infectious diseases in Europe. The project coordinator is Joacim Rocklöv, visiting professor in Sustainable ealth at Umeå University.

Climate change is one of several driving forces behind recurrent outbreaks and geographical expansion of infectious diseases in Europe. The research team in IDAlert has developed indicators and tools for decision support that are based on collaboration.

The tools are designed to comprehensively track and predict climate-related disease risks in various areas, including environmental hazard, exposure patterns and vulnerability factors. With a strong focus on the connection between animals, people and the environment, the framework creates a holistic perspective to meet the challenges.

The tools are as follows:

• Indicators of how climate change affects infectious diseases. These must be used at EU level to follow developments in different locations, as well as to inform about the need for adaptation to these risks.

• A platform for risk forecasts based on climate information in the near term, i.e. weeks to months. This platform can be used to look at the need for action in the near term.

• Development of the use of apps for reporting mosquitoes and ticks. It provides a new channel for monitoring and has on several occasions been shown to contribute to early detection in new locations.

• Modeling tools with different scenarios, including climate, to support long-term policy and decision-making.

"Current and effective preparedness"

As part of the project, the researchers have presented the proposals in an article in Lancet Regional Health – Europe. Lead author and IDAlert project coordinator Joacim Rocklöv highlights the possibilities:

“Our tools for decision support offer a multidimensional perspective, which surpasses traditional silos. In this way, we build up a more comprehensive understanding of disease dynamics, which provides the conditions for more up-to-date and effective preparedness for outbreaks. The framework gives decision-makers, healthcare professionals and communities opportunities to reduce risks and strengthen Europe's ability to respond to health crises, even in the face of changing environmental conditions.”

The article in Lancet Regional Health