Malaria Reaches New Heights

HEALTH

Warmer temperatures are causing malaria to spread to higher altitudes, a study suggests. (BBC)

Use our resources to better understand how communities are adapting to the threat of malaria.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria in 2012, the last year such data was available. Those infections resulted in an estimated 627,000 deaths. 90% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and 77% occur in children under five. Map by Global Malaria Program

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria in 2012, the last year such data was available. Those infections resulted in an estimated 627,000 deaths. 90% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and 77% occur in children under five.
Map by Global Malaria Program

Discussion Ideas

  • The BBC article, based on research published in the journal¬†Science, says that malaria, typically a tropical disease, is being documented in higher altitudes. Take a look at the map above, which shows areas most at risk for malaria. Then take a look at our MapMaker Interactive, with the “Surface Elevation” layer turned on. What countries or regions do you think are even more at risk as malaria-carrying mosquitoes (Anopheles) rise with the temperatures?
    • The Science researchers studied highland populations in Ethiopia and Colombia. Both regions have well-documented temperature variations, malaria threats, and both highland and lowland areas.
    • These are some additional examples, not an exhaustive list, of regions that may be at increased risk.
      • In Africa, people living in the foothills of the Tibesti Mountains of Chad may be at greater risk. Those living near the Mandara Mountains, stretching along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, may be at an increased risk.
      • In South America, people who live in and around the Guiana Highlands in Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname may be at greater risk, as well as those living in the temperate foothills of the Andes in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
      • In Asia, residents of the New Guinea Highlands, on the island of New Guinea (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea), may be at greater risk. People who live in the cloud forests of the Borneo (Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia) may also be at increased risk.
  • Read our media spotlight on “Insecticide-Treated Nets.” What are the most effective ways to reduce cases malaria worldwide? Which methods do you think will be effective in combating the disease at higher altitudes in affected regions?
    • The most effective ways to reduce cases of malaria include anti-malarial drugs and personal protective measures, such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and long pants, sleeping in a mosquito-free setting or using an insecticide-treated bednet.
      • In the future, anti-malarial drugs may be the most effective way to stop the spread of malaria. Medication can extend protection to at-risk populations at higher altitudes. However, many people at the greatest risk do not have access to anti-malarial medications. Sub-Saharan Africa is a developing region where health-care infrastructures are still being established. Many rural Africans cannot access anti-malarial drugs due to lack of money, lack of available medications, or lack of a distribution network.
        • You can help change this! Go Fight Against Malaria is a citizen-science project to help scientists find a cure for the disease. All you need to do is sign up, download the free software, and select the projects you want to run. Your computer or Android device will evaluate millions of candidate compounds against some 15 different molecular drug targets to discover new inhibitors that can block the activity of multi-drug-resistant mutant superbugs. Meaning . . . your computer does all the hard work!
    • Today, insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) remain the most effective way to prevent malaria infections in isolated or underdeveloped regions. ITNs, developed in the 1980s, can reduce malaria cases by 20%, saving the lives of thousands of children every year. ITNs are bednets treated with a type of insecticide that is deadly to mosquitoes and other insects, but usually harmless to people and pets. You can help here, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s