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 Atmospheric pressure impacts greenhouse gas emissions from leaky oil and gas wells
21.10.2019 | University of British Columbia

nachricht Strong storms generating earthquake-like seismic activity
16.10.2019 | Florida 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: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

Im Focus: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer LBF and BAM develop faster procedure for flame-retardant plastics

21.10.2019 | Materials Sciences

For EVs with higher range: Take greater advantage of the potential offered by lightweight construction materials

21.10.2019 | Materials Sciences

Benefit and risk: Meta-analysis draws a heterogeneous picture of drug-coated balloon angioplasty

21.10.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>