OPEN Science advances | 16 Jul 2016
N Abdur Rehman, S Kalyanaraman, T Ahmad, F Pervaiz, U Saif and L Subramanian
Thousands of lives are lost every year in developing countries for failing to detect epidemics early because of the lack of real-time disease surveillance data. We present results from a large-scale deployment of a telephone triage service as a basis for dengue forecasting in Pakistan. Our system uses statistical analysis of dengue-related phone calls to accurately forecast suspected dengue cases 2 to 3 weeks ahead of time at a subcity level (correlation of up to 0.93). Our system has been operational at scale in Pakistan for the past 3 years and has received more than 300,000 phone calls. The predictions from our system are widely disseminated to public health officials and form a critical part of active government strategies for dengue containment. Our work is the first to demonstrate, with significant empirical evidence, that an accurate, location-specific disease forecasting system can be built using analysis of call volume data from a public health hotline.
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