Projected Impacts of Climate Change on Environmental Suitability for Malaria Transmission in West Africa


Title Projected Impacts of Climate Change on Environmental Suitability for Malaria Transmission in West Africa
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2013
Authors Yamana TK, Eltahir EAB
Journal Environ Health Perspect
Date Published 2013 Sep 16
ISSN 1552-9924
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Climate change is expected to impact the distribution of environmental suitability for malaria transmission by altering temperature and rainfall patterns, but the local and global impacts of climate change on malaria transmission are uncertain. OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of climate change on malaria transmission in West Africa. METHODS: We coupled a detailed mechanistic hydrology and entomology model with climate projections from general circulation models (GCMs) to predict changes in vectorial capacity, an indication of the risk of human malaria infections, resulting from changes in the availability of mosquito breeding sites and temperature-dependent development rates. Since there is strong disagreement in climate predictions from different GCMs, we focused on the GCM projections that produced the best and worst conditions for malaria transmission in each zone of the study area. RESULTS: Simulation-based estimates suggest that in the desert fringes of the Sahara, vectorial capacity would increase under the worst-case scenario, but not enough to sustain transmission. In the transitional zone of the Sahel, climate change is predicted to decrease vectorial capacity. In the wetter regions to the south, our estimates suggest an increase in vectorial capacity under all scenarios. However, because malaria is already highly endemic among human populations in these regions, we expect that changes in malaria incidence would be small. CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight the importance of rainfall in shaping the impact of climate change on malaria transmission in future climates. Even under the GCM predictions most conducive to malaria transmission, we do not expect to see a significant increase in malaria prevalence in this region.

DOI 10.1289/ehp.1206174
Alternate Journal Environ. Health Perspect.
File:
YamanaEltahir2013MalariaWestAfrica.pdf
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