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Use of satellites for public health purposes in tropical areas.

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The epidemiological hallmark of the new millennium has been the emergence or recrudescence of transmissible diseases with high epidemic potential.
Disease tracking is becoming an increasingly global task requiring implementation of more and more sophisticated control strategies and facilities for sustainable development. A promising initiative involves the use of satellite technology to monitor and forecast the spread of
disease. The Health Early Warning System (HEWS) was designed based on successful application of satellite data in food programs as well as in other areas (e.g. weather, farming and fishing). The HEWS integrates data from communications, remote-sensing and positioning satellites. The purpose of this review is to present the main studies containing satellite data on public health in tropical areas. Satellite data has allowed development of more reactive epidemiological tracking networks better suited to increasing population mobility, correlation of environmental factors (vegetation index, rainfall and ocean surface color) with human, animal and insect factors in epidemiological studies and assessment of the role of such factors in the development or reappearance of
disease. Satellite technology holds great promise for more efficient management of public health problems in tropical areas.

Med Trop (Mars). 2003;63(1):7-16. English Abstract; Review

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