METHOD: A research-to-policy forum was convened by TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, with researchers and representatives from ministries of health, in order to review research findings and discuss their implications for policy and research.
RESULTS: The participants reviewed findings of research supported by TDR and others. Surveillance and early outbreak warning. Systematic reviews and country studies identify the critical characteristics that an alert system should have to document trends reliably and trigger timely responses (i.e., early enough to prevent the epidemic spread of the virus) to dengue outbreaks. A range of variables that, according to the literature, either indicate risk of forthcoming dengue transmission or predict dengue outbreaks were tested and some of them could be successfully applied in an Early Warning and Response System (EWARS). Entomological surveillance and vector management. A summary of the published literature shows that controlling Aedes vectors requires complex interventions and points to the need for more rigorous, standardised study designs, with disease reduction as the primary outcome to be measured. House screening and targeted vector interventions are promising vector management approaches. Sampling vector populations, both for surveillance purposes and evaluation of control activities, is usually conducted in an unsystematic way, limiting the potentials of entomological surveillance for outbreak prediction. Combining outbreak alert and improved approaches of vector management will help to overcome the present uncertainties about major risk groups or areas where outbreak response should be initiated and where resources for vector management should be allocated during the interepidemic period.
CONCLUSIONS: The Forum concluded that the evidence collected can inform policy decisions, but also that important research gaps have yet to be filled.