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Dengue Tools Consortium Sri Lanka:

Integrated Disease Surveillance and Early Warning Systems

One third of world population living in tropical and subtropical parts of the world is
at a risk of dengue virus (DENV) infections and it has been estimated 50 million cases
of DENV infections occur annually. In Sri Lanka, around 20% of symptomatic dengue
infections progress to a more severe life threatening illness known as dengue
haemorrhagic fever (DHF). Dengue thrives in more urban settings that support large
populations of the mosquito vector and the human host. However, the disease has
already entered the sub-urban and rural settings as well. Despite impressive advances
in the prevention and control of some infectious diseases, dengue stands out as an
example of a pathogen that has flourished evading our efforts of prevention and
control.

The Epidemiology Unit of Sri Lanka has the reputation of an institution that does
not give way to despair. Undaunted by the task at hand, the Epidemiology Unit has
come up with a new project that will help Sri Lanka to bring Dengue Fever/
Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever under control. This project is a combined study of
community and institutional based surveillance, covering both epidemiological
and laboratory aspects. The project will be conducted over the next 4 years from
2012 2015, piloted in the Colombo district, Sri Lanka.

Disease surveillance will be carried out at Outdoor patient Departments (OPDs) -


on patients with undifferentiated febrile illnesses, In-patients with Dengue like
illness, a cohort of 500 families living in Colombo MC area (Borella North) and all
suspected dengue/unexplained deaths. The Medical Research Institute (MRI) and
Genetech Research Institute (GRI) Colombo will provide laboratory services with
both serological and molecular diagnostics. This will serve as an early warning
system in predicting/identifying outbreaks of dengue and will also help to identify
other circulating and emerging pathogens in Sri Lanka.
It is expected that the Entomological Surveillance component of this project will
develop the best model for assessing vector density thresholds leadings to dengue
epidemics and sustainable interventions to control transmission of Aedes
mosquitoes, the vector of Dengue.

This project is funded by the European Commission under Health theme of the
Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community through a
consortium lead by Umea University, Sweden. This consortium comprises 14
global collaborators, including Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore
and the London School of Tropical Medicine, UK.

Smooth and effective implementation of the project will be ensured by two


Advisory Committees. The Secretary Health will chair the Management
Committee of the project. Dr. Paba Palihawadana (Chief Epidemiologist of the
Epidemiology Unit -Ministry of Health), the Project Director will chair the
Technical Committee. Dr. Hasitha Tissera (Consultant Epidemiologist) is the
Principal Investigator (PI) and Dr. Ananda Amarasinghe (Senior Consultant
Epidemiologist) is the Co-Investigator of this project.

This project was inaugurated in Colombo on the 13th February 2012 in the presence
of both local and international stakeholders.