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‘Climate change can impact spread of malaria in Africa’

'Climate change can impact spread of malaria in Africa'

Research focused on Ethiopia's Oromia region shows slowdown in global warming led to lower incidence of malaria

The slowdown in global warming seen at the end of the last century was reflected by a decline in malaria transmission in the Ethiopian highlands, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the University of Chicago aimed to determine the impact of global warming on malaria incidence.

“It is believed that the largest effect could occur in the highlands, where lower temperatures limit vector abundance, leading to intermittent and seasonal disease outbreaks,” read a statement by ISGlobal.

“We see that malaria epidemiology in these areas is strongly under climate control at all scales (months, years and even decades), which settles once and for all the debate on whether climate change is affecting or not the dynamics of malaria in Africa,” said Xavier Rodo, who is head of the Climate and Health Program at ISGlobal and first author of the study.

The research, published in the Nature Communications journal, focused on Ethiopia’s Oromia region, a densely populated area lying some 1,600 and 2,500 meters above sea level.

The team used mathematical modelling to analyze “the association between malaria cases, regional climate (local temperatures and rainfall) and global climate.”

“The results show that the variation in malaria cases correlates extremely well with changes in regional temperatures: the regional decline in temperatures linked to the slowdown in climate change coincided with the reduction in malaria cases observed from 2000, five years before disease control measures were reinforced,” read the statement.

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