Africas malaria resurgence isnt down to global warming
Climate in upland East Africa hasnt 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 malarias 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.
Blowing hot and cold
"Theres 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 theres no link between climate change and the growth of malaria in these regions, says Jonathan Patz, who studies climates 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 theres a mismatch between the results and the strong conclusions of this paper," says Patz. He feels its still not clear whether climate change has influenced disease.
Whats 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.
JOHN WHITFIELD | © Nature News Service
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