Quality Criteria for Assessing Climate-Sensitive Early Warning Systems for Infectious Diseases


The frequency of infectious disease outbreaks is increasing and the role of the health sector in outbreak management is crucial in terms of response. In the context of infectious disease outbreaks, the use of climate-aware early warning systems (EWS) has the potential to increase the effectiveness of disease control by intervening before or at the start of the epidemic curve, rather than during the downward slope.

Currently, the initiation of interventions relies heavily on routine disease surveillance systems – data that often arrives too late for a preventive response. However, predicting disease outbreaks using weather monitoring and information has promising potential – there is also still room to examine seasonal climate forecasts. By combining these elements into new EWS based on computer models, it will be possible to improve both the speed and the impact of disease control. The World Health Organization (WHO) is strengthening existing surveillance systems for infectious diseases to enable the development of more robust and timely SAPs, which has driven the rapid development and innovation of SAPs for epidemics.

The main elements of a climate-smart EWS are: (i) monitoring environmental conditions; (ii) anticipate high-risk conditions, initiate active surveillance; (iii) send alerts and communications; and (iv) put in place a rapid response mechanism.

This guide aims to describe the main technical and operational criteria surrounding the performance, application, implementation and effectiveness of EWS and to illustrate how an understanding of these issues can be used for EWS assessment for multiple outbreaks. of infectious diseases. This guidance is intended for national authorities responsible for infectious disease control programs and health information systems of Ministries of Health (MoH).

Read more

Climate Change and Health Toolkit

WHO’s work on integrated surveillance and early warning systems for climate-sensitive health

WHO support to countries on climate change and health

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