Sunday, November 28, 2010

Experts split on global warming, highland malaria

Terra Daily via AFP: Malaria cases in east African highland areas hitherto unaffected by the disease have caused worry that global warming is creating new mosquito breeding grounds but experts disagree on whether there is actually any link between the two. "We have recently seen waves of epidemics in highland areas. ... They have actually killed people," said Dr. Amos Odiit, who was until October head of clinical paediatrics at Mulago hospital in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

The first cases of malaria in Uganda's western Kabale region, which rises 2,000 metres above sea level, were reported in 2007, said Seraphine Adibaku, the head of the national programme against malaria. "It is climate change. Kabale is not as cold as before," she added.

Climatologists say Africa has become warmer by 0.7 degrees Celsius over a century, favouring the spread of malaria as mosquitoes that carry the parasite thrive in warmer climes and cannot survive in temperatures below 15 degrees.

…But the theory is just a juxtaposition according to other experts who explain that the spread of malaria is determined by the effectiveness of public health interventions and a country's state of economic development. Contrary to the theory that malaria has increased due to rising global temparatures, the disease has not spread any further than it was in the past century, said Simon Hay of Oxford University.

…Many researchers however seem to agree that while there is a theoretical relationship between climate change and rising malaria infections, this trend can be curbed by robust public health drives….

A World War II vintage public health poster about malaria

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