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Research Projects

Dengue Epidemic Surveillance Modeling, Visualization and Response Management System

Currently the nation is faced with multiple calamities; some natural and others man-made. A small insect, namely Aedes Aegypti mosquito, carrier of dengue fever has been wreaking havoc with lives of people in Punjab province and could unfortunately turn into a bigger disaster if it spreads to other provinces and regions also. It would be prudent to find ways to facilitate the agencies and entities trying to deal with this disaster in smarter ways (using mapping and GIS-based technology). Outbreak and spread of dengue could be modeled using standard epidemic-specific modeling techniques so that the spread could be stopped by timely interventions lest it takes over the whole country.

Executive Summary:

Pakistan is among the 110 countries in the world which are affected by the mosquito-borne dengue virus. The 1st case of dengue virus was recorded in Pakistan in 2004. During the past several years, the situation was not as alarming as it has particularly become during the last two years. Since 2010, the incidence of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) have risen dramatically in Punjab, Pakistan, especially in the city of Lahore where thousands of new cases surfaced on daily basis between the months of July 2011 and December 2011. Since July 2011, more than 21000 people have been struck with dengue fever in the province of Punjab alone. More than four hundred succumbed to the disease in Punjab―about three hundred of them in Lahore. DF and DHF are caused by viruses transmitted through the bites of infective female Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

With the growing DF and DHF threats in Punjab, there is now an urgent need to develop a reliable dengue surveillance and rapid-response system with the capability to collect and analyze massive, time-evolving (i.e. streaming) dengue epidemic data in real-time so as to mitigate human and financial loss particularly in large populous regions of the province. However, the solutions for modeling and countering dengue epidemic are very much dependent on its behavior and underlying characteristics, which cannot be known with any certainty a priori. The major obstacles faced by the systems addressing these challenges are the lack of sophisticated dengue epidemiological models, appropriate dengue analytics tools, and interactive visualization technology for apt use by epidemiologists and public health officials. The existing infectious disease (ID) surveillance systems in Pakistan lack capabilities to perform analyses for any epidemiological spread (rest aside dengue), causal hypotheses testing, and planning of responses to emerging health alerts/events.

The Dengue-View project will be a collaborative effort between the Center for Visual Analytics Research (C-VAR), UET, Lahore; Purdue University, USA; three of the leading hospitals in Lahore, namely KEMU/Mayo Hospital, PGMI/General Hospital, and FJMC/SIR Ganga Ram Hospital; and the Surveillance and Epidemic Response Cells (SERCs) and Institute of Public Health (IPH), Government of Punjab (GoP). PITB (as a separate project) will be gathering dengue related data from 57 remote district level hospitals of Punjab and will make this data available for Dengue-View project. Microsoft Research (MSR) USA will fund about US$7500 for supporting the development of smart phone based component of the data collection (from remote locations of the province) and buying some Windows Phone based smart phones.

Dengue Epidemic Surveillance Modeling, Visualization and Response Management System

Funded by: National ICT R&D Fund Islamabad.

Headed by: Dr. Muhammad Naeem Ayyaz

Situated at: Electrical Engineering Department, UET, Lahore.