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Policies to reduce malaria regardless of climate change

This policy brief, published by the Sustainable Development Network, examines the links between malaria and climate, asking whether climate change will impact its spread and what policies should be implemented to combat the disease.

The author, Richard Tren from the advocacy group Africa Fighting Malaria, highlights claims that climate change may increase the spread of malaria to new areas. But, he says, the relationship between climate and mosquito populations is highly complex; while increased temperatures and rainfall can create more breeding pools for mosquitoes to develop faster, they can equally wash out these pools and decrease mosquito populations.

Similarly, while malaria is these days associated with hot, tropical countries, until the early 1950s it was widespread throughout Europe and North America — mosquitoes have been known to survive winters with temperatures as low as minus ten degrees Celsius.

Debates about the links between climate and malaria divert attention away from more significant causes, says Tren. Human activity has a much greater impact on the spread of malaria than climate, or climate change, and policymakers should tackle this regardless of changes in climate.

Action, he suggests, is needed to:
• enhance access to clean water and sanitation by decentralising water control;
• improve malaria control, including removing breeding grounds, spraying insecticides, scaling up the use of bednets and preventative treatment, and improving human living conditions;
• increase wealth so people can afford drugs and timely treatment; and
• reduce bureaucracy in health policy.

Link to full article from Sustainable Development Network