Words by GOLD newsdesk
A new disease surveillance project to curb the spread of known and unknown pathogens, especially mosquito-borne illnesses, has been launched by GSK and Microsoft in Nepal.
Climate change in the country is leading to an increase in transmission of diseases such as malaria, and the partnership is seeking to build “biological weather stations” that will detect, monitor and manage the spread of emerging pathogens.
“This project is a great example of what is possible when innovative companies from different sectors come together with local communities to develop solutions for urgent climate-related healthcare challenges,” said Thomas Breuer, Chief Global Health Officer, GSK.
The biological weather stations will be powered by ‘Microsoft Premonition’ systems, which harness optical sensing and smart robotics to monitor insect species and collect biological samples on how changing climate is impacting disease transmission.
Via the project, GSK will bring disease expertise, funding and access to populations in need, and it hopes to improve outcomes, alleviate the toll on healthcare systems and reduce levels of health inequity. “The health impact of climate change is currently most acutely felt by undeserved communities,” adds Breuer. This means disease diagnoses can come late, or not at all.
In April 2022, Nepal committed to reducing indigenous malaria cases to zero by the end of this year in its bid to meet its elimination target of the disease by 2026. This project could help to contribute to this ambitious goal, but it will require Nepal to have no indigenous cases of malaria for three consecutive years.