The change in our climate also affects the transmissions of diseases, especially the vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue. Today is World Malaria Day dedicated to raising awareness for one of the world’s most deadly diseases. Every year, Malaria kills approximately 1 million people and afflicts around 1 billion people worldwide.
Caused by a parasite called Plasmodium falciparum and transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, Malaria is the cause of death of most of the children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mosquitos, the vectors are the carriers of the parasite.
Climate plays an important role in the breeding of these mosquitoes. These mosquitoes thrive in regions with warm temperatures, humid atmosphere, and heavy rainfalls. These are the tropical and subtropical regions.
Climate change is causing temperature variation, change in rainfall patterns and humidity which may be responsible for an increase in malaria transmission by widening the disease’s geographical distribution.
There’s still a lot to study in the complex relationship between malaria and climate change but the current models indicate that there will be an enhancement in the number of cases of malaria. The disease may spread to higher altitudes where no previous reports of malaria cases were found. At lower altitudes, the disease might spread more rapidly due to increase in temperature.
El Nino cycle, greatly affected by climate change is also reported to be a key reason for increased transmission of the parasite. Heavy rainfalls in dry regions due to altered El Nino cycle, can act as breeding grounds for the deadly mosquitoes which may result in malaria epidemics.
Along with climate change, there are various other factors that affect the transmission of malaria such as population, drug resistance, insecticide resistance, irrigation, drains, etc. With better health care, efficient drainage systems, socioeconomic development, and immunization, the cases of malaria has comparatively died down in recent years.
Climate change may be a threat or maybe not, it’s controversial. But better watch out!
Source – UN Chronicle