Beyond the Choropleth: How UP Mindanao mapping efforts help shape Davao City policies and disease interventions programs
2023-11-21, 14:20–14:40 (Asia/Manila), Tacloban Room

Disasters are not often caused by things that can be seen with the naked eye. In December 2019, a strain of strange, pneumonia-like cases began infecting people in a city in China. Months later, the World Health Organization has declared this novel virus as the cause of a global health emergency which led to a years-long battle against the unseen foe. Travel restrictions and border controls were implemented and the world raced to track the movement and emergence of cases.

Within UP Mindanao's 200-hectare campus, research projects pursue ideas and methodologies targeting local community needs and issues. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science of the College of Science and Mathematics mobilized the students' interest to participate in research efforts and conducted data analytics to publicly-available COVID-19 disease data which led to the production of case visualizations in the form of maps. These were then published on various social media platforms which soon attracted the attention of several Local Government Units and government offices, most notably the Department of Health. This led to the formal collaboration between the academe and the government in the months that followed which, in turn, influenced several policies and the creation of research-based decision support systems.

And COVID-19 is not the only disease modelled by the department's multidisciplinary team. Rabies, an endemic disease that is still prevalent in the Philippines despite several interventions, have been carefully studied by UP Mindanao research staff since 2018. Several publications and public informational sessions has led to the development of an analytics dashboard that is currently deployed and used by personnel from the City Veterinarian's Office. One of the most useful tool in the dashboard? MAPS.

This talk will outline the disease mapping efforts of UP Mindanao researchers, specifically the ones that I was able to take part of starting when I was a student researcher until now, and present how these helped shape policies and intervention programs in the city of Davao.