Among the many effects of Global Warming is the increase in Malaria in the densely populated regions in Africa and South America. If disease monitoring and controls are not put in place, we could be staring at a major spurt in malaria cases.
It is for the first time that researchers have found a definite link between global warming and malaria. A recent study estimates that 220 million persons are infected by Malaria. The study reveals that malaria spreads to higher elevations during the warmer years and comes to lower altitudes when the temperatures are cooler.
This means the progressively increasing global temperatures will spread Malaria up the mountains and spread to new and higher altitude areas. The most worrying aspect of this development is the people living in these areas have no immunity to Malaria since they have never been exposed to the pathogens which cause malaria- Plasmodium. They could be defenseless to the more severe and fatal cases of infections.
The WHO estimates that Malaria affects more than 219 million people and kills more than 66 million people, a majority of them in the sub Saharan Africa. However these figures can vary because the disease affects mostly people in remote regions of developing countries where it is not possible to effectively monitor malaria cases and associated fatalities caused by the disease.
Both the vector and the pathogen which causes the disease are particularly sensitive to climate changes. Plasmodium parasites and Anopheles mosquito both thrive in warm conditions.
Mercedes Pascual from the University of Michigan said, “This is indisputable evidence of a climate effect. Our findings…underscore the size of the problem and emphasize the need for sustained intervention efforts in these regions, especially in Africa.”