Deep learning models for forecasting dengue fever based on climate data in Vietnam

Nguyen Van Hau, Tran Thi Tuyet Hanh, James Mulhall, Hoang Van Minh, Trung Q. Duong, Nguyen Van Chien, Nguyen Thi Trang Nhung, Vu Hoang Lan, Hoang Ba Minh, Do Cuong, Nguyen Ngoc Bich, Nguyen Huu Quyen, Tran Nu Quy Linh, Nguyen Thi Tho, Ngu Duy Nghia, Le Van Quoc Anh, Diep Phan, Nguyen Quoc Viet Hung, Mai Thai Son

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Dengue fever (DF) represents a significant health burden in Vietnam, which is forecast to worsen under climate change. The development of an early-warning system for DF has been selected as a prioritised health adaptation measure to climate change in Vietnam.

This study aimed to develop an accurate DF prediction model in Vietnam using a wide range of meteorological factors as inputs to inform public health responses for outbreak prevention in the context of future climate change.

Convolutional neural network (CNN), Transformer, long short-term memory (LSTM), and attention-enhanced LSTM (LSTM-ATT) models were compared with traditional machine learning models on weather-based DF forecasting. Models were developed using lagged DF incidence and meteorological variables (measures of temperature, humidity, rainfall, evaporation, and sunshine hours) as inputs for 20 provinces throughout Vietnam. Data from 1997–2013 were used to train models, which were then evaluated using data from 2014–2016 by Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) and Mean Absolute Error (MAE).

Results and discussion
LSTM-ATT displayed the highest performance, scoring average places of 1.60 for RMSE-based ranking and 1.95 for MAE-based ranking. Notably, it was able to forecast DF incidence better than LSTM in 13 or 14 out of 20 provinces for MAE or RMSE, respectively. Moreover, LSTM-ATT was able to accurately predict DF incidence and outbreak months up to 3 months ahead, though performance dropped slightly compared to short-term forecasts. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time deep learning methods have been employed for the prediction of both long- and short-term DF incidence and outbreaks in Vietnam using unique, rich meteorological features.

This study demonstrates the usefulness of deep learning models for meteorological factor-based DF forecasting. LSTM-ATT should be further explored for mitigation strategies against DF and other climate-sensitive diseases in the coming years.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0010509
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022


  • Deep Learning
  • Dengue
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Vietnam


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