“The data is so strong, we can forecast diseases and begin to see the cause of outbreaks in particular areas, particularly when they are water-borne.”
In Indore, lack of clean drinking water and sanitation issues are together the leading cause of several diseases, from dysentery to malaria. With more intense and frequent storms, poor sewerage and drainage systems, coupled with climate change-induced rainfall changes and temperature increases, the poor are most at risk to diseases caused by stagnating water.
To address this problem, TARU Leading Edge, through involvement with the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, designed and piloted a disease surveillance system to track disease incidence across 599 slums.
For the pilot phase, surveyors and volunteers are collecting data from each family where an illness was reported, using an Android app. TARU aggregates the information into a disease map of Indore, allowing one to zoom in on a particular place and identify the potential causes of diseases, many of which correlate with the water source or how water is being used.
This project is also raising awareness through a toll free medi-aid helpline that provides information to individuals on the locations of hospitals and pharmacies in the area, as well as their eligibility to access government health schemes.
Before the introduction of the surveillance system, existing methods of disease monitoring were already overstretched. According to the joint director of the Urban Health System of Indore, Dr. Sharad Pandit, the disease surveillance system will greatly assist the Health Department.
“We are getting information promptly now, helping us to prevent outbreaks,” he explains. “The data is so strong, we can forecast diseases and begin to see the cause of outbreaks in particular areas, particularly when they are water-borne.”
The collection of information over time will also be used by academic institutions in understanding the linkages among the climate, environment, and specific diseases prevalent in Indore.