Climate change 'could hamper efforts to wipe out malaria'

Utter rubbish!  They can wipe out malaria any time they want by re-authorizing the use of DDT.  Australia is a third tropical but it wiped out malaria before DDT was banned

The DDT story is an old one.  DDT is toxic to insects only but some poorly substantiated claims that it also hinders reproduction for some birds were enough to get it banned.  An unbiased re-examination of the evidence would almost certainly un-ban it.  

It is a wonder for killing mosquitoes, bed-bugs etc.

Efforts to eradicate malaria could be hampered by climate change — which could boost mosquito numbers and bring the disease to new areas, a study has found.

Malaria is a climate-sensitive disease which thrives where it is wet and warm enough to provide the still surface waters needed to breed the mosquitoes that spread it.

For more than two decades, experts have warned that the new patterns of temperature and rainfall induced by climate change could change malaria's range.

Experts from Leeds now warn that malaria could remain longer in parts of Africa — such as Botswana and Mozambique — while lessening in areas like South Sudan.

Africa faces the lion's share of the global malaria burden — with the continent facing, for example, 93 per cent of the world's estimated 228 million cases in 2018.

'[Following] the huge efforts to eradicate malaria from parts of the world, the areas where we observe malaria today are only a part of the total area that would otherwise be suitable for malaria transmission,' said paper author Mark Smith.

'But if we are to project the impact of climate change on the geography of malaria transmission, we need to develop more sophisticated ways of representing that envelope of malaria suitability both today and in the future,' he added.

'Our approach aims to lay out the environmental risks of malaria more clearly, so that projections of climate change impacts can help inform public health interventions and support vulnerable communities.'

'But this is only a first step, there is a lot more we can do to embed state-of-the-art hydrological and flood models into estimates of malaria environmental suitability and, potentially, even early warning systems of local malaria epidemics.'

Detailed mapping of the spread of malaria is vital for organising public health resources and aid efforts.

In the past, scientists have estimated the annual spread and duration of the disease — alongside making future predictions — by looking at rainfall and temperature.

But factors affecting how rainfall results in waters suitable for mosquito breeding are complex — including, for example, consideration of how water is absorbed into soil and vegetation, as well as rates of runoff and evaporation.

In their study, the researchers combined a malaria climatic suitability model with a continental-scale hydrological model that represents real-world processes of evaporation, infiltration and flow through rivers.

'This process-focused approach gives a more in-depth picture of malaria-friendly conditions across Africa,' said Dr Smith.

By using future climate scenarios to predict conditions up to the end of the century, the team found a different pattern of future changes in malaria suitability compared to previous works.

'While the findings show only very minor future changes in the total area suitable for malaria transmission, the geographical location of many of those areas shifts substantially,' explained Dr Smith.

'When a hydrological model is used, aridity-driven decreases in suitability are no longer observed across southern Africa, particularly Botswana and Mozambique.'

'Conversely, projected decreases in malaria suitable areas across West Africa are more pronounced.'

The largest change predicted by the team would occur in South Sudan — which is expected to undergo substantial decreases in malaria suitability in the future.

While flowing water in such large rivers does not provide a suitable habitat for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, they can create small ponds and floodplains beside their course which form ideal larvae breeding grounds.

According to the researchers, this is problematic, as human settlements tend to be concentrated close to rivers.

'The shrinking map of malaria in Africa over that last 20 years is primarily due to huge public health efforts underway to tackle this disease, not climate change,' said paper author and health expert Chris Thomas of the University of Lincoln.

'But malaria elimination is made much more difficult where the climate is highly suitable for transmission, so it is key to know where these areas are now and are projected to be in the future.'

'Linking physical geographic processes to the biology helps us get to grips with some of that complexity.'

'The exciting challenge now is to develop this approach at local scales.'


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