Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Link between climate and malaria broken

21.02.2002


Africa’s malaria resurgence isn’t down to global warming


Climate in upland East Africa hasn’t changed yet.
© Getty Images



Climate change cannot explain the growth of malaria in the highlands of East Africa, say researchers. Drawing simplistic links between global warming and local disease patterns could lead to mistaken policy decisions, they warn.

Drug resistance, or the failure of the health-care system to keep pace with population growth, are more likely culprits for malaria’s rise, say Simon Hay, of the University of Oxford, and his colleagues. These should be the focus of public-health efforts, they urge. Malaria kills between one million and two million Africans each year.


Through records and computer simulation, Hay’s team reconstructed the climate of four regions in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi between 1911 and 19951.

Malaria cases in these regions have increased sharply in the past two decades, in some areas more than fivefold. The pattern is similar across tropical Africa. Hay’s team chose upland areas because they are most sensitive to climate change.

But the reconstruction revealed no significant trends in temperature, rainfall or the number of months when conditions were suitable for malaria transmission - the disease thrives in warm, wet weather. "The climate hasn’t changed, therefore it can’t be responsible for changes in malaria," says Hay.

There’s been an unseemly rush to link climate to disease, agrees Paul Reiter, an expert in insect-borne diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The most important factors are always going to be economics, politics and lifestyle," he says.

Hay and Reiter add that even in temperate regions, global warming is unlikely to increase the threat of malaria. The disease was present in Europe and North America until the second half of the twentieth century, until factors such as wetland draining, insecticide and improved public hygiene eliminated it, they point out.

Blowing hot and cold

"There’s been some terrible bandwagon-jumping and misdirection of resources that could be spent learning how to control mosquito-borne disease," says Reiter. "We urgently need to cool down the rhetoric and start to look objectively at what the factors behind their recent resurgence are."

But this study does not prove that there’s no link between climate change and the growth of malaria in these regions, says Jonathan Patz, who studies climate’s relationship with health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Some regions of East Africa do show warming trends, he says. That the team considered climate over a much longer period than they analysed disease could have confused their analysis, he believes.

"I think there’s a mismatch between the results and the strong conclusions of this paper," says Patz. He feels it’s still not clear whether climate change has influenced disease.

What’s needed, he says, are studies that consider climate, disease statistics and social factors simultaneously. These may help to predict the effect on malaria if climate in upland East Africa does change.

References

  1. Hay, S. I. et al. Climate change and the resurgence of malaria in the East African Highlands. Nature, 415, 905 - 909, (2002).


JOHN WHITFIELD | © Nature News Service

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Monitoring lava lake levels in Congo volcano
16.05.2018 | Seismological Society of America

nachricht Ice stream draining Greenland Ice Sheet sensitive to changes over past 45,000 years
14.05.2018 | Oregon State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>