Research in progress
Here are listed current research projects and published papers from previous research
Published Peer-reviewed and preprints

LEAL NETO O, CRUZ O, ALBUQUERQUE J, SOUSA M, SMOLINSKI M, LIBEL M, CESSE E, VIEIRA SOUZA W. Participatory surveillance based on crowdsourcing during Olympic games Rio 2016: the case of Guardians of Health. JMIR Preprints. 2019. DOI: 10.2196/preprints.16119

PAOLOTTI D, SHAH U, EDELSTEIN M, LEAL NETO O, KOSTOKOVA P, WOOD C. Digital Health Innovation: From Proof of Concept to Public Value. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Digital Public Health. 2019. Pages 5-5. ISBN: 978-1-4503-7208-4 DOI: 10.1145/3357729.3357764

LEAL NETO, O. B.; DIMECH, G. ; LIBEL, M. ; SOUZA, W. V. ; CESSE, E. ; SMOLINSKI, M. ; OLIVEIRA, W. ; ALBUQUERQUE, J. . Saúde na Copa: The World?s First Application of Participatory Surveillance for a Mass Gathering: FIFA World Cup 2014, Brazil. JOURNAL OF MEDICAL INTERNET RESEARCH, v. 3, p. 1-10, 2017. DOI: 10.2196/publichealth.7313

LEAL NETO, ONICIO BATISTA; ALBUQUERQUE, JONES ; SOUZA, WAYNER VIEIRA ; CESSE, EDUARDA ; CRUZ, OSWALDO GONÇALVEZ . Disruptive innovations and transformations in public health in the digital age. Reports in Public Health, v. 33, p. 1-4, 2017. DOI: 10.1590/0102-311x00005717

LEAL NETO, ONICIO BATISTA; ALBUQUERQUE, JONES ; CRUZ, OSWALDO GONÇALVEZ ; CESSE, EDUARDA ; SOUZA, WAYNER VIEIRA DE . Optimistic perspectives for the health of the future. Reports in Public Health, v. 33, p. 1, 2017. DOI: 10.1590/0102-311x00164017

LEAL NETO, O.B.; LOYO RODRIGO; ALBUQUERQUE, J; PERAZZO; JULIANA; BARBOSA, VERONICA; BARBOSA, CS. Using mobile technology to conduct epidemiological investigations .Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop. vol.48 no.1 Uberaba Jan./ Feb. 2015; DOI: 10.1590/0037-8682-0181-2014

LEAL NETO, OB; ALBUQUERQUE CM; ALBUQUERQUE JO; BARBOSA CS. The Schisto Track: A System for Gathering and Monitoring Epidemiological Surveys by Connecting Geographical Information Systems in Real Time. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2014;2(1):e10; DOI: 10.2196/mhealth.2859

Barbosa.C.S. ; SANTOS, R. S. ; Gomes, E. C.G. ; ARAÚJO, Karina Conceição Gomes Machado de ; ALBUQUERQUE, J. ; MELO, F. ; SEVILHA, M. A. ; BRASILEIRO, D. ; MELO, M. ; LEAL-NETO ONICIO BATISTA ; Barbosa, V.S. ; NASCIMENTO, W. R. C. ; GUIMARAES, R. . Epidemiology of schistosomiasis in coastal areas of Pernambuco State, Brazil. DOI: 10.5216/rpt.v43i4.33607

Barbosa.C.S. ; GOMES, E. C. S. ; SOUZA, A. ; ARAUJO, K. C. ; Leal-Neto, Onicio ; GUIMARAES, R. . Tourism risk for schistosomiasis in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco State, Brazil. Revista Pan-Amazônica de Saúde. DOI: 10.5123/S2176-62232015000300007

Gomes, E. C.G. ; LEAL-NETO, ONICIO BATISTA ; OLIVEIRA JUNIOR, F. J. M. ; CAMPOS, J. V. ; SANTOS, R. S. ; Barbosa.C.S. . Risk analysis for occurrences of schistosomiasis in the coastal area of Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco, Brazil.. BMC Infectious Diseases (Online) v. 14, p. 1471-2334, 2014. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2334-14-101.

LEAL NETO, O. B.; GOMES, E. C. S. ; OLIVEIRA JUNIOR, F. J. M. ; ANDRADE, R. ; REIS, D. L. ; SANTOS, R. S. ; BOCANEGRA, S. ; Barbosa.C.S. . Biological and environmental factors associated with risk of schistosomiasis mansoni transmission in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco State, Brazil. Cadernos de Saúde Pública (ENSP. Impresso) v. 29, p. 357-367, 2013.

BARBOSA, Constança Simões ; MELO, F. ; MELO, M. ; BEZERRA, L. ; CAMPOS, J. V. ; RODRIGUES, B. ; NASCIMENTO, W. ; Gomes, E. C.G. ; LEAL NETO, O. B. ; DOMINGUES, A. L. C. . Casos autoctones de esquistossomose mansonica em criancas de Recife, PE. Revista de Saúde Pública , v. 47, p. 684-690, 2013. DOI: 10.1590/S0102-311X2013000200022

Barbosa, V.S. ; ARAÚJO, Karina Conceição Gomes Machado de ; LEAL NETO, O. B. ; BARBOSA, Constança Simões . Spatial distribution of schistosomiasis and geohelminthiasis cases in the rural areas of Pernambuco, Brazil. DOI: 10.1590/S0037-86822012000500017

LEAL NETO, O. B.; CAVANCANTI, T. Y. ; ESTEVES, F. A. M. ; MARITCHA, A. A. ; GOMES, E. C. S. ; ARAÚJO, Karina Conceição Gomes Machado de ; BARBOSA, Constança Simões . Análise espacial dos casos humanos de esquistossomose em uma comunidade horticultora da Zona da Mata de Pernambuco, Brasil. Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia (Impresso), v. 15, p. 771-780, 2012. DOI: 10.1590/S1415-790X2012000400009.

GOMES, E. C. S. ; LEAL NETO, O. B. ; ALBUQUERQUE, J. ; SILVA, H. P. ; Barbosa.C.S. . Schistosomiasis transmission and environmental change: a spatio-temporal analysis in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco – Brazil. DOI: 10.1186/1476-072X-11-51

LEAL NETO, O. B.; GOMES, E. C. S. ; ALBUQUERQUE, J. ; Barbosa.C.S. . Estratégias do Futuro para Enfrentar Problemas do Passado: Celulares do tipo smartphones, Twitter e SMS criam rede nova, barata e eficiente para o combate à esquistossomose, doença que agora contamina sem distinção social. Scientific American Brasil, v. 106, p. 48-51, 2011. DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/HBJMF

Barbosa.C.S. ; LEAL NETO, O. B. ; GOMES, E. C. S. ; ARAUJO, K. C. ; DOMINGUES, A. L. C. . The endemisation of schistosomiasis in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco, Brazil, 10 years after the first epidemic outbreak. DOI: 10.1590/S0074-02762011000700014

LEAL NETO, O. B. ; LIBEL, M. ; DIMECH, G. S. ; FERREIRA, J. P. ; OLIVEIRA, W. . Digital disease detection and participatory surveillance: overview and perspectives for Brazil. Revista de Saúde Pública (Online), v. 50, p. 1-5, 2016; DOI: 10.1590/S1518-8787.2016050006201

CORLEY C; LEAL-NETO, OB; TAYLOR C; ESCOBAR-VIEIRA C; VILAS, VDR. What’s in your pocket? Trends in Mobile Apps for Biosurveillance and Decision-making. Online J Pulbic health Inform. 2015; 7(1):e3 DOI: 10.5210/ojphi.v7i1.5660

LEAL-NETO, OB, et al. Role of Mass gathering surveillance. In: Disease Surveillance:Technological contributions to global health security. CRC Press. Boca Raton 2016. ISBN 9781482254396

Child Development Study

Coordination: Center for Child Well-being and Development - University of Zurich
Co-authors: Onicio B. Leal Neto, Simon Hanni, Guilherme Lichand 
Place: Malawi
Partners: UNICEF Malawi, UNICEF Switzerland, College of Medicine Malawi
In collaboration with: ISI Foundation, University of Alberta, Interaxon, Pickcells, Mawi, Viamo  
This project aims at evaluating innovative approaches for collecting data on child development in low-income countries, at much lower cost and at higher frequency than alternative data collection methods typically used by UNICEF and other international organizations. More than ever before, decision-makers need data to make informed decisions. Disease prevention, detection, and epidemiologic control remain major challenges for the Malawian health system. The accuracy and availability of data are still inadequate, making evidence-based decisions almost impossible. In such situations, decision-making can be like driving through a dense fog in the middle of the night. Large data gaps make it difficult to see problems clearly in order to design appropriate solutions. The study plans to tackle this problem with the help of wearable technologies, devices that will track children and youth’s biomarkers on a weekly basis. Such non-invasive technologies generate data that will feed prediction models­­, which can then be used to trigger warnings to families and community health-workers (known in Malawi as Health Surveillance Assistants, or HSAs). The technologies also enable fine-tuning child and youth development interventions that can be adjusted at high frequency, according to machine learning predictions of child health and development fed by the data on children’s biomarkers. As such, this project has the potential to create conditions for decreasing child mortality and morbidity and boosting child development in the short-run, thanks to digital disease detection and early warning systems. Beyond wearable technologies, the study also includes phone-based surveys to ensure that the approach can be scaled-up across different settings even in the absence of wearable devices. The potential of the proposed research lies in the interventions that wearable-based data could power, thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI). In particular, the project will test: (1) a public health approach to evaluate timely responses to early detection of disease outbreaks, preventing the spread of epidemics at the community level, and (2) a referral system, informed by AI, which will allow for fine-tuning of interventions at the individual level.

See the video:

Predicting Learning Epidemics

Coordination: Center for Child Well-being and Development - University of Zurich 

Co-authors: Guilherme Lichand, Sharon Wolf

Place: Ivory Coast

Partners: Movva, Penn University

Both youth and adult literacy rates in Ivory Coast are low, estimated at 53% and 44%, respectively, with large disparities for marginalized groups, including females and poor children. Ivorian authorities are employing various strategies as part of reforms to meet the goals of improving learning and increasing literacy through universal education. One approach to promoting education and learning is to increase parental awareness and engagement regarding their children’s education, known to be key predictors of children’s academic achievement. To do that, Ivorian authorities plan to implement a two-way SMS text-based platform that allows schools to send messages to parents with information about their child’s attendance and grades, and which nudges them with motivating facts and suggested activities to engage them in their child’s school life. We randomize the schools where parents and teachers receive the messages and compare children across those schools and those not targeted by communication. We find huge effects of messages to parents on learning in the first primary cycle: messages decrease dropout rates by 50%, and improve learning by about 1 quarter ahead in school for both literacy and numeracy. This reflects the fact that parents become more engaged in children's school life, and decrease the use of physical punishment. Child labor in cocoa fields increases massively within children that improve in school, suggesting parents actually do not enlist children who are struggling in school – at least at that young age – and that child labor does not really rival with learning for younger kids. Moreover, effects are lower to non-existent among the second primary cycle students, even though their parents also become more engaged, suggesting teacher quality is the binding constraint at that stage. Now we are building a framework to understand if learning process based on those triggers could be understood as an epidemic.

Delivering prevention
Coordination: Center for Child Well-being and Development - University of Zurich 
Co-authors: Onicio B. Leal Neto, Maite Deambrosi, Jiajing Feng, Guilherme Lichand 
Place: Malawi 
Partners: UNICEF Malawi, SNF Switzerland

On the absence of liquidity constraints, is it the case that all that matters for parental investments in their children are the costs and the perceived returns of those investments? If that were the case, then a mother should be equally willing to purchase deworming tablets from a clinic or from a local shop, as long as their unit price were the same at both sources (and assuming away other differences, e.g. commuting time). There are reasons to believe this is unlikely to be true. Paying for tablets at the clinic presumably violates expectations about free disposal – even if they are subsidized –, potentially leading to very low demand. Conversely, with subsidies, tablets might be perceived as a bargain at the local shop, potentially leading to very high demand. What is more, parents might be especially unwilling to pay for prevention at the clinic out of concerns that this signals purchasing power, hindering their future likelihood of accessing prevention at no cost. This study examines how the framing under which parents decide whether to invest in preventive health care for their children affects those decisions, taking advantage of a market research survey under the pretext of setting up a home-delivery startup. The survey experiment elicits incentive-compatible willingness to pay for different preventive products, randomizing at the individual-level where preventive products are sourced from, the price of delivery, and whether it preserves the anonymity of the buyer. We hypothesize that framing effects might be key determinants of the demand for preventive health care. In particular, i) households may be more willing to purchase prevention from sources they associate with previous purchases (as opposed to sources they associate with free disposal), ii) households' willingness to pay for prevention may be increasing in the indirect costs (specifically, the cost of delivery) when those move the decision framing away from free disposal – the opposite of the expected effects of indirect costs on demand. and, iii) households may be more willing to purchase preventive health products when they perceive the transaction as a bargain. We also hypothesize that households' willingness to pay for prevention should increase if delivery ensures anonymity, particularly when preventive goods are sourced from sources associated with free disposal. Our choice of preventive health care – specifically immunization, deworming, bed nets, chlorine and soap - is no coincidence. On the one hand, they have been shown to be amongst the highest-return inter-ventions to increase children’s school attendance, grade progression and health status (Miguel and Kremer, 2004). On the other hand, previous studies have led to the pessimistic conclusion that it may be impossible to induce poor parents to systematically undertake those investments when products are offered at positive prices, even in the presence of information about the high health benefits or behavioral nudges to buy and use them (Miguel and Kremer, 2007). Indeed, several studies show that, across disparate products and con-texts, small prices deter many from investing in prevention (Kremer and Glennerster, 2012). Understanding the reasons behind this sub-optimal investment would significantly contribute both to the scientific under-standing of constraints to take-up and to the important policy question of whether preventive health care always needs to be fully subsidized by the government. On top of the survey experiment, we run a village-level Randomized Control Trial in which we assign vouchers that cross-randomize the price (partial subsidy or market price) of preventive health care products (specifically, deworming tablets, chlorine and immunization – the latter only available at no cost at the clinic), where they can be used (either the local shop or the village clinic), and how the transaction is framed (as a bargain – “only with this voucher!”, even when the product is sold at market price – or not). We will evaluate the impacts on actual take-up of those products by tracking which vouchers are retrieved, and by tracking parents with the help of RFID technology, additionally, we will conduct a light follow-up survey to evaluate improvements in children’s health. The study will inform the design of health campaigns by shedding light on the mechanisms preventing the investments in children’s human capital, and low-cost interventions that could significantly boost take-up of Malawi’s essential health package.