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Expedição HARMONIZE Brazil 2023

FEB 6 2024

By Editor

The Brazilian team conducted the second expedition to the Baixo Tocantins hotspot, in Pará, Amazônia

The Brazilian team conducted the second expedition to the Baixo Tocantins hotspot from November 5 to 16, 2023. This marked the first return to the region after the previous year's visit, which focused on reconnaissance and initial contacts with local stakeholders. The objectives of this expedition were as follows: 1. Organize a workshop to increase awareness of the connections between climate change and infectious diseases, mapping local knowledge regarding how infectious diseases impact the lives of local communities, and understanding how changes in climate and/or the environment influence disease risk. 2. Collect data using drones and interviews in landscapes most relevant to disease transmission in Mocajuba.

The workshop "HARMONIZE: health, climate, and territory" took place on November 8 and 9, 2023, at the auditorium of EEEM PROF ISAURA BAHIA school. It involved the participation of health and environmental managers, NGO representatives, teachers, community leaders, and community health agents. A workshop for young people and children was also conducted in partnership with UNICEF and the Social Assistance Reference Center, aiming to discuss climate change and health in the region.

In the following days, various rural and urban riverside locations in the municipalities were visited for data collection using drones and interviews, along with entomological collections, with the presence of local health agents.

Team's Fieldwork Journey. Image: communication

The action had the presence of the entire team of researchers, including Ana Paula Dal’Asta (INPE), Claudia Torres Codeço (Fiocruz), Diego Ricardo Xavier Silva (Fiocruz), Franciana Valente (Fiocruz), Izabel Cristina Reis (Fiocruz), Marcelle Chagas (Fiocruz), Maria Isabel Escada (INPE), Raquel Martins Lana (Barcelona Supercomputing Center), Sidnei João Siqueira Sant’Anna (INPE), in addition to the crucial presence of Franciana Valente as the local coordinator.

The initiative received essential support from local collaborators and institutions, such as the Municipal Health Department of Mocajuba, Municipal Environment Department of Mocajuba, Health Department of the State of Pará, and the Emílio Goeldi Museum in Pará.

Workshop "Mocajuba with Health in Times of Climate Change”

The event targeted health and environmental managers, representatives of NGOs, teachers, community leaders, and community health agents, bringing together a total of almost 50 participants.

HARMONIZE Brazil team and local stakeholders. Image: Communication.

The workshop fostered a discussion on health risks stemming from climate change, such as rising temperatures, changes in rainfall, and river levels. Participants collectively discussed the identification of critical areas for vector-borne diseases and what data and indicators are necessary to detect and prepare for reducing the risk of illness resulting from outbreaks of diseases like Chagas, malaria, and dengue in communities.

In addition to raising awareness among local authorities, organizations, and civil society about health risks associated with climate change, the workshop facilitated the exchange of experiences and knowledge among communities, experts, and local authorities. A notable highlight was the presentation on the use of drones to map disease risk landscapes, providing an innovative and effective perspective on the prevention and monitoring of vector-borne disease outbreaks. Isabel Escada, Ana Paula Rorato, and Sidnei João Siqueira Sant’Anna (INPE) shared valuable insights on how this technology can be a powerful ally in preventing and monitoring disease outbreaks. The program included presentations, discussions, and practical activities.

INPE team showcases drones for the participants. Image: Communication.

In addition to the lectures, the workshop also facilitated rounds of discussions on the impacts of climate on vector-borne diseases in the region. Representatives from different locations shared the challenges they face, highlighting issues such as the lack of infrastructure for environmental protection activities and the need for improvements in healthcare services in more remote communities.

Workshop "Fact Hunters: Unveiling the Truth about Climate Change and Its Impacts on Health" (HARMONIZE and UNICEF Seal)

Marcelle Chagas (Fiocruz), Raquel Lana (Barcelona Supercomputing), Claudia Codeço (Fiocruz), and Franciana Valente (Fiocruz) played a vital role in the activity organized by HARMONIZE and the UNICEF Seal titled "Fact Hunters: Unveiling the Truth about Climate Change and Its Impacts on Health" for around 30 young people and teenagers in Mocajuba.

In this initiative, knowledge about climate change, its impact on health, and how to combat misinformation on the topic was shared. The activity, aimed at the municipality's teenagers, aimed to raise awareness about the environmental challenges faced by the region and inspire the next generation to actively engage in seeking solutions. The action provided teenagers with a deeper understanding of the interconnections between climate change and health.

The youth attentively watch the presentation on fake news related to climate change and health. Image: Communication.

The tree of knowledge was built and left as a legacy with the workshop's learning. Image: Communication.

Drones Gather Crucial Data in Mocajuba

Members of the Advisory Committee (CC) and the HARMONIZE team utilized drones to collect data in areas critical for disease transmission in Mocajuba. These regions were meticulously identified based on epidemiological data, refined during a workshop in collaboration with local professionals and community representatives. Throughout the mission, interviews were conducted to understand local knowledge on how infectious diseases impact communities and how changes in climate and the environment influence disease risk. Additionally, the teams actively promoted and participated in communication and engagement activities with the local population.

The data collection focus centered on peri-urban and urban areas of Mocajuba, where five drone flights were conducted, each carefully georeferenced using the Global Positioning System (GPS). During these flights, photos were taken, landscape characterization was described, and valuable data was collected.

The mission also included a visit to a rural locality following reports of the presence of vectors and fishponds. The entomology team made a crucial discovery by finding anopheline larvae in the fishpond, underscoring the significance of this innovative approach.

In an effort to better understand the situation, interviews were conducted with residents and health agents in rural communities. These interactions aim to enrich the dataset, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the health challenges faced by the local population. The use of drones and interviews strengthens the collaboration between experts and the affected communities.

Researcher Ana Rorato (INPE) analyzes data collected during a drone flyover. Image: Communication.