25 May 2015 | Online since 2003

Climate change poses malaria risks

There were about 216 million cases of malaria and an estimated 655,000 deaths in 2010, according to the World Malaria Report 2011.

Malaria mortality rates have fallen by more than 25% globally since 2000, and by 33% in the WHO African Region.

However, most deaths still occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria. CIWEM believes that as resistance to drugs develops the medium term focus needs to be on better water management strategies.

As the climate changes, mosquitoes responsible for malaria will spread, by accessing warm high altitudes, in places once free of the disease.

Recent models and scenarios have estimated that 260 to 320 million more people will be affected by malaria by 2080 as a consequence of new transmission zones.

Access to core anti-malaria interventions will not altogether eliminate the mosquito vector or malaria parasite.

CIWEM believes that malaria has gone beyond being just a health issue and that it is an environmental management issue that affects where and how people live.

Intensified irrigation, dams and other water related projects contribute importantly to this disease burden by providing sites to breed. Water management has received far less attention compared to other control measures but as mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to pesticides and drugs are becoming less effective, finding water management-based interventions is becoming an increasingly important alternative.

Better management of water resources reduces transmission of malaria and also other vector-borne diseases such as Schistosomiasis.

World Malaria Day on 25th April marks a critical moment and CIWEM is calling on countries and communities to prioritise malaria with health budgets and improve water systems.

Executive Director Nick Reeves has highlighted that a changing climate means an effective strategy must be in place to deal with malaria.

’Tackling malaria is an incredibly important objective, failure to do so helps to perpetuate poverty and loss of productivity, at a time when the climate is changing and the habitations of these parasites spread."

"Building water management strategies into health plans for Malaria is essential, without them the disease will never be properly tackled’.



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