Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • African malaria rise parallels warming trend

Resurgences of malaria in East Africa are linked to rising temperatures over the past few decades, according to a new analysis.

The findings in this week's issue of Nature challenge the results of a study published earlier this year. The authors of the first study found no significant connection between climate change and malaria prevalence in the region (see Climate change and malaria growth not linked), and concluded that something other than global warming must have fuelled the rise of malaria in the past two decades, such as the growth of drug resistance.

But an international team of scientists now says that global warming and malaria prevalence are indeed linked, and that the original study's conclusions were flawed by its "inappropriate use" of climate data. They argue that the study crucially ignored temperature variability and that the data collected did not accurately reveal climate trends for specific locations.

"Weather data is particularly sparse in East Africa, and the climate database used was originally created to pool information for analysis over large geographic areas," says the lead author of the new analysis, Jonathan Patz from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "There is potential, therefore, for reaching spurious conclusions when using such climate data to study diseases at the local level."

But the authors of the first study, led by Simon Hay of the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, stand by their conclusions. "Rather than climate change, variations in environmental, social and epidemiological factors are more plausible for the malaria resurgences," they respond. "Evidence against the epidemiological significance of climate change in the recent malaria resurgences in Africa is mounting and remains unmatched by any contrary evidence."

© SciDev.Net 2002

Link to analysis by Patz et al and response by Hay et al

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.