Press Release

Satellite Technologies to Track Epidemics

By SpaceRef Editor
July 4, 2001
Filed under ,

Alain Bensoussan, Chairman of CNES (Centre National
d’Etudes Spatiales), Marion Guillou, Director-General of Franceís INRA
national agronomy research institute, André Koier, Director of Teaching
and Partnerships at the Institut Pasteur (IP,) and Jean-François Chary,
Head of the Lyons Veterinary School (ENVL), signed a cooperation
agreement today on the use of satellite monitoring technologies as part
of a plan to deploy systems and services designed to predict epidemics.

Taking their lead from the priorities set by the
World Health Organization (WHO) for monitoring and providing early
warning of major tropical endemics linked to climate change and its
associated environmental impacts, CNES, INRA, the Institut Pasteur and
ENLV are pooling their skills and resources in an innovative,
multidisciplinary approach to health-environment relationships.
The aim of this joint initiative is to nurture operational
epidemiological monitoring networks and to develop a predictive approach
to the geographical spread of epidemics.

CNES, as part of its strategy to promote space
applicationsówith support from its subsidiaries MÈdias France for
earth observation and meteorology satellite aspects and MEDES for field
work aspectsóand INRA, ENVL and the Institut Pasteur for epidemiology
and bio-mathematics aspects, have thus decided to team up to:

evaluate the technical requirements of
satellite-based epidemic monitoring systems
: i.e., acquisition,
routing, storage and analysis of human and animal epidemiological
data, and their fusion with scientific data and earth observation and
meteorological satellite data; such systems are key to the ability to
predict the geographic spread of an epidemic in support of teams
conducting preventive campaigns in the field;

conduct experiments with a view to assessing
the technical and economic benefits of solutions envisaged to monitor
certain epidemics
, such as Rift Valley fever in Senegal and Egypt,
sleeping sickness in Ivory Coast, dengue hemorrhagic fever in South
America and bird flu in Asia.

A first phase began in October 2000 along the Senegal
River to attempt to predict the geographic spread of Rift Valley fever.
The main aim of this phase, which will cover two rainy seasons, is to
validate the bio-mathematics aspects of such an approach.

A number of requests to monitor diseases are now
being examined to establish their technical and operational feasibility.
Chief among these are Rift Valley fever, which is spreading towards
Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, dengue hemorrhagic fever in northern
Brazil and Guyana, and malaria in certain African and Asian countries.

Press contacts:
CNES – Sandra Laly
Phone +33 (0)1 44 76 77 32 or during the Paris Air Show +33 (0)1 41 69
30 85

SpaceRef staff editor.