Dengue risk assessment using multicriteria decision analysis: A case study of Bhutan.

10 Feb 2021
Tsheten T, Clements ACA, Gray DJ, Wangdi K

BACKGROUND

Dengue is the most rapidly spreading vector-borne disease globally, with a 30-fold increase in global incidence over the last 50 years. In Bhutan, dengue incidence has been on the rise since 2004, with numerous outbreaks reported across the country. The aim of this study was to identify and map areas that are vulnerable to dengue in Bhutan.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS

We conducted a multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) using a weighted linear combination (WLC) to obtain a vulnerability map of dengue. Risk factors (criteria) were identified and assigned with membership values for vulnerability according to the available literature. Sensitivity analysis and validation of the model was conducted to improve the robustness and predictive ability of the map. Our study revealed marked differences in geographical vulnerability to dengue by location and season. Low-lying areas and those located along the southern border were consistently found to be at higher risk of dengue. The vulnerability extended to higher elevation areas including some areas in the Capital city Thimphu during the summer season. The higher risk was mostly associated with relatively high population density, agricultural and built-up landscapes and relatively good road connectivity.

CONCLUSIONS

Using MCDA, our study identified vulnerable areas in Bhutan during specific seasons when and where the transmission of dengue is most likely to occur. This study provides evidence for the National Vector-borne Disease Control programme to optimize the use of limited public health resources for surveillance and vector control, to mitigate the public health threat of dengue.