Components of an Early Warning System

The principal components of an early warning system include forecasting when and where an epidemic is likely to occur, predicting the number of cases of malaria that could occur (or whether a pre-defined threshold will be exceeded), implementing an effective and timely response plan, and ongoing evaluation of the system and its components (Ebi and Schmier 2005). The distinction between prediction and early warning is important: early warning is prediction but not all predictions are early warnings. An effective and efficient early warning system for malaria should reduce vulnerability to current climate, as well as be designed for easy modification to take into account continuing climate change. The relative importance of forecasting timing and predicting the number of cases will depend on the control decisions that will be taken and the degree of interannual variation of the disease. In some instances, forecasting the timing of a likely epidemic is sufficient. For example, for diseases which are absent from the human population for long periods followed by explosive epidemics, early detection and/or forecasts of the probability of an epidemic may be more important than predictions of epidemic size (Kuhn et al. 2005).

The system should be developed with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the issues of greatest concern are identified and addressed, thus increasing the likelihood of success of the system. Stakeholders include the agencies and/or organizations that will fund the development and operation of the system, the groups who will be expected to take action, and those likely to be affected. Including those previously affected may provide local knowledge about responses and their effectiveness. Figure 4.1 describes a framework for developing early warning systems for vectorborne diseases (Kuhn et al. 2005).

Data requirements Preliminary phase MEASURES TO BE TAKEN

Data requirements Preliminary phase MEASURES TO BE TAKEN

MODEL ASSESSMENT/EVALUATION

Fig. 4.1 Components of an early warning system for infectious diseases (Kuhn et al. 2005)

MODEL ASSESSMENT/EVALUATION

Fig. 4.1 Components of an early warning system for infectious diseases (Kuhn et al. 2005)

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