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Frequently asked questions;

  1. 1. Who funds HEALTHY FUTURES?

HEALTHY FUTURES has received €3.38 million of EU funding through the seventh framework programme (FP7) project, which is the EU’s main instrument for funding research in Europe. It is designed to support Europe's development with respect to competitiveness, employment and quality of life. The programme runs for the period of 2007 – 2013. Click here for more information on FP7.

  1. 2. What motivates HEALTHY FUTURES?

Outbreaks of water related, vector borne diseases have complex relationships with environmental conditions. As environmental conditions change, such as through climate and land use changes, then the incidence of disease outbreaks is likely to change. Although all those living in areas where conditions become conducive to disease outbreaks are vulnerable, generally the most marginalised members of society are at greatest risk. HEALTHY FUTURES aims to minimise these risks by improving our ability to predict and to communicate the extent and severity of future outbreaks under different environmental change scenarios.

  1. 3. Why choose these three water-related vector water-borne diseases (VBDs)?

Two of the three target diseases (malaria and RVF) are VBDs sensu stricta. The third (schistosomiasis) involves an intermediate host (a freshwater snail) for the pathogen, rather than a vector. However for the sake of simplicity, the three target diseases are referred to as VBDs, and the organisms involved in the transmission of pathogens to host species as vectors. The three VBDs were chosen because of links between the competence of the vectors and intermediate hosts and the associated pathogens involved and environmental change phenomena reported in the published literature, because of their significant human and animal health and economic effects in the study area, and owing to the close association with these diseases of members of the HEALTHY FUTURES consortium of researchers. In addition, the three diseases cover a range of different modes of transmission, although all will be impacted by changes in environmental conditions, with human behaviour a key component in determining the actual outcomes.

  1. 4. Why choose this region?

Water-related VBDs are transboundary in their distribution and effects. An integrated (i.e. regional and global), multi-national response is therefore required. The choice of eastern Africa as a study area acknowledges the necessity of willingness at all levels of society – including supra-national organisations such as the East African Community - to implement the findings and increased understanding that accrue from scientific research in order to mitigate effectively the negative health and economic effects of environmental, including climate change. A range of altitude- and latitude-related environmental conditions, including extensive highland areas and a lowland coastal plain, and a range of humidity, from more or less permanently humid highlands to arid and semi-arid plains, are accommodated within the study area. Moreover, large freshwater bodies and extensive wetlands, some of which are only now being exploited for food production, are also present.  This environmental variability is matched by a rich diversity among human populations, in terms of language, religion, culture and settlement, and unevenness in the distribution of people and economic activities, with highlands generally the most densely settled.

Although the immediate geographic focus of the HEALTHY FUTURES project is eastern Africa, the approach adopted in and the findings of the research are expected to have applications outside the study area including sub-Saharan Africa and Europe.

  1. 5. What are the HEALTHY FUTURES outputs?

Overall, the work plan aims to develop policy-relevant simulations of future environmental correlates of the three target VBDs (malaria, RVF and schistosomiasis), based upon regionally- and seasonally-specific climate change models and on realistic future scenarios of socio-economic conditions and land use/land cover. These simulations will then be combined with understanding of the epidemiology of the targeted VBDs – including past linkages between changes in environmental and socio-economic conditions and outbreaks of the targeted VBDs – in the predictive modelling of VBD emergence and spread. Outputs from the predictive models will be used to improve (constrain) assessments of risks of future outbreaks, and as the basis for more effective disease outbreak surveillance and early warning systems. HEALTHY FUTURES also aims to enhance the capacity of health and veterinary services at local, national and supra-national levels to respond to changes in risk of transmission and outbreaks of the targeted VBDs as a result of a convergence of changing climatic, land use and socio-economic conditions. This aim will be achieved through improved disease outbreak surveillance and early warning, and via the provision and effective implementation of Decision Support tools. As the project progresses outputs will be made available.

  1. 6. To what scale will the disease risk and vulnerability maps be to?

The HEALTHY FUTURES project intends to work on two scale levels. On the first scale level, an assessment of vulnerability and associated disease risk is carried out on the regional scale level. This is driven by the case study area of eastern Africa which includes the countries Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The consortium intends to produce risk and vulnerability maps identifying hot spots for the three target diseases. The final resolution of the risk maps depends strongly on the final output of down-scaled climate data as well as available socio-economic variables. A definitive aim is to produce maps which show associated risks and vulnerabilities on a sub-national and disaggregated scale level.

The second scale level includes local assessments of risks and vulnerabilities. The following case study sites have been identified for the three target diseases to be applied on a localised area towards a district scale level:

      • Proposed field site for highland malaria and schistosomiasis; Lake Burera, Rwanda
      • Proposed field site for schistosomiasis; Buliisa District, Lake Albert, Uganda
      • Proposed field site for RVF & seasonal malaria; Ijara, Kenya

    • 7. How can I keep up to date with project activities?

The activities of the project are going to be announced in this website, so please visit regularly. The partners will also compile and distribute regular press releases and a newsletter. However, the best way to keep yourself updated (and benefit from our activities) is to get in touch (and keep in touch) with your local partner or email your query here.

    • 8. Who are the stakeholders and end-users?

In order to disseminate information from the HEALTHY FUTURES project effectively, identifying the target recipients of knowledge will be necessary. One of the project tasks is dedicated to building a database of stakeholders and end-users. Such stakeholders and end-users will include but not limited to the following;

      • The global scientific community dealing with (International) Health and Tropical Medicine,
      • Policy Makers and Advisors (National governments, EU and global) in Health,
      • General public.

 


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