MASTER’S THESIS: “DEVELOPING THE EPIDEMICS RISK ASSESSMENT: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LOCAL GOVERNANCE AND DENGUE RISK IN THE PHILIPPINES”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
This internship report was written as part of the Epidemics Risk Assessment (ERA) project and examined the relationship between local governance and dengue risk.
ERA aims to develop a local-level prediction model for epidemic risk that can be applied globally so the Red Cross can more effectively and efficiently provide humanitarian aid to people affected by epidemics. The prediction model is based on analysis of many different risk factors. This internship report examined the relationship between local governance and epidemic risk using dengue in the Philippines as a case study. Based on this case study, it defined a list of local governance indicators for use in the prediction model.
WHO IS THE AUTHOR
Elise Garton is a student in the Research Master Global Health at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and completed her internship at 510 in spring 2019. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from the University of Notre Dame in the United States, so this internship provided an opportunity to combine knowledge from both her studies.
WHY IS IT NEEDED
Epidemics are some of the world’s most destructive and costly disasters. Literature and experts suggest that governance plays an important role in epidemic prevention and response, however there is little consensus on how it impacts epidemic management and how to measure that impact. Elise’s research aims to fill that knowledge gap and use it to predict the risk of dengue occurrence and transmission.
HOW WE WORKED TOGETHER
Elise worked with a team of seven students and two supervisors on the ERA project, with each student researching a different predictive factor of epidemics. In addition to the ERA team, she collaborated with other 510 staff and volunteers who assisted with data scraping, statistical analysis, and visualisation. She also received training at 510 on R and QGIS and used both platforms in her data analysis.
Qualitative interviews were used to supplement the statistical findings. Via contacts at NLRC, Elise conducted ten interviews with representatives from the Philippines Red Cross, IFRC, UN OCHA, and other local and international NGOs active in dengue prevention and response in the Philippines.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN FINDINGS
The research found that there was a relationship between local governance in the Philippines and dengue incidence and used this information to recommend 18 indicators of local governance to predict epidemic risk. These indicators can be applied in the Philippines context, but inherent challenges in data quality, data availability, and causality determination mean it may not be worth the effort to include local governance in the final ERA prediction model scaled to other countries.
The research highlighted the importance of consistent and accurate disease surveillance as a prerequisite for meaningful epidemic research, especially when trying to draw conclusions at a local level. Elise also found the interviews with stakeholders to be very useful as interviewees’ local perspectives and knowledge helped explain and elaborate on the findings from her data analysis to provide a deeper level of understanding. She recommends using interviews in future 510 research projects when possible.
Elise Garton presents her research findings to 510 colleagues at NLRC headquarters in The Hague (July 2019).
Predicted annual dengue incidence in the Philippines based on local governance (Garton, 2019).