Dr. I Gede Nyoman Mindra Jaya Develops Predictive Model for Dengue and Covid-19 Spread

Dr. I Gede Nyoman Mindra Jaya, M.Si. (Photo: Dadan Triawan)*

[Unpad Media Channel] Dengue infections and Covid-19 are still health issues which need to be dealt with. However, the ineffective containment of infections will result in a bloated budget. Therefore, the development of early warning systems to reduce the impact of infectious diseases needs to be strengthened.

This concern pushed a professor of Statistics from Unpad’s Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, Dr. I Gede Nyoman Mindra Jaya, M.Si., to research efforts of disease control on dengue and Covid-19 using spatiotemporal analysis.

The research, which became Mindra’s dissertation for his doctoral program at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, attempts to accurately predict when and where outbreaks of either of the two diseases will happen.

“If we were able to predict it accurately, cost-effectiveness in controlling the disease will happen,” said Mindra.

There was a reason why Mindra developed the early warning system for dengue and Covid-19 spread. For dengue, the disease is still a serious concern in several tropical countries. In West Java specifically, Bandung is an area with high rates of dengue infections.

For Covid-19, Indonesia and many other countries is impacted by the pandemic. It does not only affect the health sector, but also other sectors, such as the economic sector. Almost every country in the world was not ready to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aside from that, the two diseases have the same high risk of infection in densely populated areas. They also have the same symptoms. The similarity of symptoms influences misdiagnoses so the recovery process is not optimal.

The high risk of infection faced with the density of the population and inaccurate diagnoses will also contribute to high rates of disease transmission.

From that, the spatiotemporal model is used by Mindra to analyze how far the two infectious diseases could quickly fester in an area based on their history of spread. By choosing Bandung as a sample location for his research, Mindra uses the data of disease spread from every district.

Although the spatiotemporal research to analyze the spread of disease is ample, Mindra offers novelty by modelling using high-resolution data. The samples used are data containing the spread of disease on a district level. By Mindra, the data are then analyzed so he could calculate risks on a subdistrict level.

The analysis of data to a minute level will ease the control of disease. The government could then carry out accurate prevention policies.

“We are aware that we couldn’t just label a district as ‘high risk’. Especially when only one or two subdistricts are posing high risks. We have to identify that so the government could be cost-effective and focus on containing only the subdistricts deemed to be of high risk,” he explained.

From the analysis, Mindra explained a few factors contributing to the high rates of dengue and Covid-19 infection. Two among them are the high mobility and density of the population in an area. According to Mindra, mobility has an important role in spreading dengue and Covid-19. The radius of infection can even reach hundreds of kilometers.

“When someone is infected, they might not realize and still be mobile, even leave their own region. This allows them to spread the disease to other areas,” said Mindra.

Other factors are the low levels of hygiene and awareness to protect each other.

Based on the results of his research, Mindra explained that the northern and southern parts of Bandung still have high rates of dengue infection. Aside from high mobility, the regions also have high numbers of mosquitoes.

“In the north, there are more forests which are comfortable places for mosquitoes to breed. Meanwhile, the southern regions are prone to produce more puddles after rain, and are thus potential habitats for mosquitoes to breed,” he said.

His results could be a reference for the government of Bandung, or related institutions, to formulate more focused and effective policies.

Mindra explained further that statistics play a role in minimizing the effects of a pandemic through accurate predictions. “From the statistics side, we try to develop an early warning model so we could know when and where the most cases happen. The government could focus its resources on those areas, so the cost would be more effectively spent,” he said.

Becoming a Doctor and Awarded

Dr. I Gede Nyoman Mindra Jaya receiving the “RSAI Dissertation Award” from The Regional Science Association International (RSAI). (Photo: Dadan Triawan)*

His dissertation titled ” Bayesian Spatiotemporal Modelling and Mapping of Infectious Diseases Methodology and Applications to Dengue Disease in Bandung City and Covid-19 in West Java, Indonesia” was successful in earning Mindra his Doctoral degree with cum laude honors in May 2022.

The research had two promotors, Prof. L.J.G. van Wissen and Prof. H. Folmer from the University of Groningen. Aside from the two promotors, Mindra also invited examiners from various countries, Prof. P. McCann (England), Prof. R. Bivand (Norway), Prof. Rina Indiastuti (Unpad/Indonesia), Prof. Arief Anshori Yusuf (Unpad/Indonesia), Prof. Fanny Jansen (RUG), as well as Dr. Toni Toharudin (Unpad/Indonesia).

Mindra admitted that his journey in obtaining his cum laude doctoral degree was rigorous. Aside from having to publish his works in several Q1 journals, to be given cum laude honors, the dissertation has to be reviewed by six professors from various countries.

For that, he became active in events and communities dabbling in regional science. Since 2017, Mindra has been a member of the Spatial Econometrics Association (SEA), and has attended the conferences held by SEA in numerous countries every two 2 years.

“Through these conferences, I was introduced by my promotor, Professor Henk Folmer, to several professors concerned with spatiotemporal modeling. They include Prof. Roger Bivand, Prof. Anselin, Prof. Lesage, and a few others,” he exclaimed.

Mindra did not stop after obtaining his degree. In mid-October, Mindra was awarded the RSAI Dissertation Award by The Regional Science Association International (RSAI). Mindra became the first Indonesian to be given the award.

Before, Mindra was also awarded the Tiebout Prize of the Western Regional Science Association in 2019 for his article titled “Identifying Spatiotemporal Clusters by Means of Agglomerative Hierarchical Clustering and Bayesian Regression Analysis with Spatiotemporally Varying Coefficients: Methodology and Application to Dengue Disease in Bandung Indonesia”.

“The RSAI is a prestigious institution in the field of regional science, they manage several international journals and routinely hold conferences each year in America. Winning the Tiebout Prize in 2019 could have been a basis for why my dissertation was given the award,” said Mindra.

Moving forward, Mindra plans to build a website for data modeling which could be used by those without an understanding of statistic methodology. “With the website, users can input the data and directly generate the model so they know how their predictions will be,” he concluded. (arm/ICP)*

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