Image of


The impact of DEmographic Changes on Infectious DisEases transmission and control in middle and low income countries (DECIDE)


Principal Investigator: Alessia Melegaro

Dondena Researchers: Piero Poletti, Emanuele Del Fava

Associate Researchers: Piero Manfredi (Università di Pisa), Stefano Merler (Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento), Simon Gregson (Imperial College London & BRTI, Harare), James Nokes (Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kilifi), John Williams (Imperial College London)

Contract Type: ERC Starting Grant 2011 (grant agreement no.: 283955)

Project Funding: 1,210,000€

Start Date: 1 April 2012

End Date: 31 March 2017


General Field of Research

            DECIDE assesses the impact of demographic changes on infectious diseases transmission and control in middle/low income countries.

Project Aims

1. To evaluate the short and medium term impact that demographic changes, such as fertility decline, urbanization, mortality decline and the additional demographic impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, may have on infection transmission and, consequently, on morbidity and mortality of critical childhood diseases.

2. To advance the traditional mathematical modeling framework used to evaluate the impact of public health interventions for infectious diseases to incorporate realistic processes of population transition.

3. To produce a new generation of epidemiological models capable of studying the potential implications of these demographic changes on long-term trajectories of infectious diseases and of control strategies.


Project Components

1. Gathering of social contact data: To assess how past, ongoing and future changes in key demographic processes (i.e., fertility and mortality) and structures (i.e., households, schools) affect infection transmission, we will gather social contact data that are of critical importance to the spread of infections and to identify the most optimal intervention to put in place. Social contact data will be collected in two Sub-Saharan countries (Kenya and Zimbabwe) and in demographic settings representative of the different phases of the ongoing demographic transition.

2. Development of an individual based model: To predict the impact of forecasted population changes on relevant socio-demographic structures, we are developing an individual-based-model (IBM) parameterized and validated through the use of DHS data. One of the main outputs of the model will be a set of time–dependent “synthetic” contact matrices by age and settings in each of the sites under study.

3. Statistical modeling of demographic data: To investigate the association between life course trajectories, HIV/AIDS prevalence, and sexual behaviors, we will make use of innovative statistical models based on the analysis of life events sequences, taking therefore into account the strong dependence between all the important life events.

4. Modeling for policy: To identify the optimal intervention policies, a set of infection-specific transmission dynamic models will be developed with realistic and time-changing population structures (age distribution, mortality, family size, space) and contact patterns.


Media Coverage

European Research Council

The DECIDE team is...

DECIDE Activities

11-13 April 2013 Population Association of America Annual Meeting

Modelling the impact of Demographic Trends on the Dynamics and Control of Vaccine Preventable Childhood (P. Poletti).


26-27 March 2013, DECIDE annual meeting, Bocconi University


Feb-March 2013, Emanuele del Fava visit to Zimbabwe

Collection of field data on social contact patterns and time use in Watsomba and Nyanga.


29 October 2012, Dondena Seminar Series, Bocconi University

Human Behaviour in Epidemic Modelling (P. Poletti).


19-21 October 2012, Workshop for planning of Social Contact Study in Zimbabwe, Imperial College


10-11 September 2012 British Society for Population Studies

The Impact of Current Demographic Trends on the Dynamics and Control of Vaccine Preventable Childhood Infections (A. Melegaro).


3-7 September 2012, European Conference for Complex Systems

The impact of demographic change on transmission & control of infectious diseases: Modeling unstable demographics and social contacts in epidemiological models (P. Manfredi).


14-15 June 2012, DECIDE Kick-off meeting, Bocconi University