Climate change, and resulting increased temperatures, storms, droughts, and rising sea levels, will affect the incidence and distribution of infectious disease across the globe. This is true in Africa, where malaria continues to have dramatic effects on the population.
As climate change continues, the specific areas likely to experience year-round, high-risk transmission of malaria will shift from coastal West Africa to an area between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, known as the African Highlands.
Indeed,The health effects caused by shifts in malaria transmission rates in the African Highlands have the potential to be severe.
Research has shown that the effects of climate change on health will impact most populations over the next few decades.However, Africa, and specifically the African Highlands, are susceptible to being particularly negatively affected. In 2010, 91% of the global burden due to malaria deaths occurred in Africa.
Several spatiotemporal models have been studied to assess the potential effect of projected climate scenarios on malaria transmission in Africa. A study conducted by Caminade et al.concluded that the most significant climate change effects are confined to specific regions, including the African Highlands.
These results are consistent with previous studies.
Ultimately, studies show an overall increase in climate suitability for malaria transmission resulting in an increase in the population at risk of contracting the disease .Of significant importance is the increase of epidemic potential at higher altitudes (like the African Highlands).
Rising temperatures in these areas have the potential to change normally non-malarial areas to areas with seasonal epidemics.
Consequently, new populations will be exposed to the disease resulting in healthy years lost. In addition, the disease burden may be more detrimental to areas that lack the ability and resources to effectively respond to such challenges and stresses
Furthermore ,The challenges of controlling and possibly eradicating malaria in the African Highlands are many and varied. Many of the strategies used to control malaria haven’t changed, are few in number, and have rarely been added to in the last 20 years.
With such a large area to cover it is hard to use insecticides at a continuous and effective level.This form of control is expensive, and the areas affected are not able to sustain control. Without sustained control, a rapid resurgence in parasite transmission is seen.
Another challenge with insecticides is that the vector is now becoming insecticide resistant. Due to the fact that mosquitoes have several generations per year, resistance is seen very quickly
The solutions that can help malaria control and possibly lead to eradication are far fewer in number than the challenges, but if they are effective they can truly change the areas currently affected. There are number of groups working on a vaccine, some are looking to control the transmission of the parasite to the host, or control transmission from human back to the vector.
These vaccines are not very effective currently, and lose their effectiveness over time, so are not ideal. But, the development is still progressing in the hopes of finding a better, more effective long lasting vaccine.
An alternative to vaccines is vectored immunoprophylaxis (VIP) that is a form a gene therapy.
This therapy will change cells in the host that will secrete antigens from various stages of the parasite in the hopes of triggering an anamnestic immune response in the recipient and prevent disease and parasite transmission