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UCAR weather forecasts aim to reduce African meningitis epidemics
Date:11/19/2008

BOULDER--The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), working with an international team of health and weather organizations, is launching a project this month to provide long-term weather forecasts to medical officials in Africa to help reduce outbreaks of meningitis. The forecasts will enable local health providers to target vaccination programs more effectively for this deadly disease, which is correlated with dry and dusty conditions.

"We're applying our expertise in weather forecasting to assist health care officials on the front lines of this disease," says Rajul Pandya, director of UCAR's Community Building Program. "By targeting forecasts in regions where meningitis is a threat, we may be able to help vulnerable populations. Ultimately, we hope to build on this project and provide information to public health programs battling weather-related diseases in other parts of the world."

Funding for the project comes from a $900,000 grant from Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the Internet search company. The award is part of the Google.org Predict and Prevent program, which aims to help map "hot spots" of emerging infectious diseases around the world. The project draws on forecasting and health experts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which is managed by UCAR.

UCAR is working with a number of organizations on the initiative, including leading African health and weather centers and Meningitis Environmental Risk Information Technologies, a consortium of climate and health institutions under the auspices of the World Health Organization. Other partners include the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, North Carolina State University, and the World Meteorological Organization.

-----Africa's meningitis belt -----

Epidemics of bacterial meningitis break out periodically across sub-Saharan Africa's so-called meningitis belt, which
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Contact: David Hosansky
hosansky@ucar.edu
303-497-8611
National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Source:Eurekalert

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