This global vulnerability to disease project (VyGIL) started out as a research collaboration between the United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) and the Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH). VyGIL aims at developing an interactive global vulnerability tool for water-related diseases to assess the impacts of environmental and climate change, in order help reduce illnesses and enhance the health and quality of life of the world’s vulnerable populations. The idea for the project was developed in March 2009 through a planning meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The project was subsequently launched in Malaysia with a proof-of-concept project entitled “An approach to identify risk of and vulnerability to dengue fever in Malaysia for the purpose of mitigation and management.” This initial study looked into the influences of physical, human and disease factors on the prevalence and distribution of dengue fever cases in Malaysia. Two PhD students at UNU-INWEH and one PhD student at UNU-IIGH worked on this project. This project is partly funded by a core fund and an SPC from the Malaysian government. This component of the project has since been concluded with the graduation of the 3 PhD students.
In April 2015, a new research under this project entitled “Vulnerability analysis to communicable diseases with assessment of environmental health preparedness, response and recovery following the severe Kelantan River Basin flooding.” This research was funded by the Malaysian government through the Ministry of Education. Cuurently, we have a doctoral student workingt on this project. The results from this study has been presented to the Malaysian government at a conference in April 2016.
Next, we are launching a third research project on water security, focusing on the Langat River Basin in Selangor Malaysia. This will be a joint research project between UNU-IIGH, the National University of Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia. This project will be funded by the remaining SPC fund from the Malaysian Ministry of Education. The idea for this project was triggered by river water contaminations of the Semenyih River and Langat River which have resulted in several water supply disruptions in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor that has attracted wide media attention.