Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Climate Change: Malaria

Over a million people die from malaria each year and many millions more are seriously weakened by it. According to a new study, the fears climate change might increase malaria incidence and an expansion of the global range of the mosquito-borne disease are overblown.

Although malaria is treatable with anti-malarial drugs, these are often not available in the poorest areas.

"The investment in fighting malaria that is taking place right now will far outweigh the effects caused by the nudge of climate change," said Pete Gething, an epidemiologist with Oxford University and lead author of the study.

The best cure is prevention, and the best prevention is mosquito nets for beds. This bed netting protects people from mosquitoes while they sleep at night, when the mosquitoes are most active.

The cost for a bed net is $6, but since people in Africa often sleep two or more to a bed, the cost per person is about $3. Ideally, every person in the affected areas of Africa, where 90% of malaria cases are, would be provided with a bed net. Besides saving lives, this would be an excellent economic investment, as the cost of malaria to Africans in lost productivity alone is estimated in the billions of dollars each year.

- Molly McNeill

SOURCE: The Gazatte