Climate’s Role in Malaria

Today marks World Malaria Day, instituted by World Health Organization (WHO) Member States in 2007 as an annual “occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.” The theme for this year’s World Malaria Day is Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria. 

The Investment of Research

Climate is an important driver of malaria, a devastating parasitic disease identified as a major constraint to development in Africa and elsewhere. The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, which is a WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre for Early Warning Systems for Malaria and Other Climate Sensitive Diseases, has been working for over a decade to better understand the relationship between malaria and climate and how that knowledge can translate into malaria prevention, control and elimination. Determining the influence of climate on malaria also helps decision makers measure the effectiveness of interventions to prevent and treat the disease.

Our most recent malaria research projects, in partnership with the Columbia Global Center- Africa located in Nairobi, include:

Development of Climate Analysis Section for the President’s Malaria Initiative Impact Evaluation Reports and Refinement of Climate Analysis Tools
Location: Rwanda, Zanzibar (Tanzania) and Mali
Goals: Identify data gaps and methodological challenges in analyzing climate as a variable of malaria transmission; develop methods to assess impact of climate variability on malaria transmission; produce climate analyses to incorporate into the President’s Malaria Initiative impact evaluation
Partners: US Agency for International Development; National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Climate Variability and Change: Implications for Malaria Control in East Africa
Location: Ethiopia
Goal: Unpacking the implications of a changing climate for national malaria control and elimination strategies; prioritizing a scientific community of practice; facilitating an informed discussion on current trends and future possible scenarios
Partners: School of Public Health at Addis Ababa University; Ethiopian Public Health Institute; Ethiopian Public Health Association, United States National Institutes of Health; Columbia Global Center-Africa; Health and Climate Foundation

Population Health Vulnerabilities to Vector-borne Diseases: Increasing Resilience under Climate Change Conditions in Africa
Location: Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire and Mauritania
Goal: Provide technical assistance and advice to WHO-TDR and five interdisciplinary research teams during the implementation of the research activities on climate and health
Partners: WHO-Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, International Development Research Centre

Emerging collaborations are also underway with the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, UK Department for International Development and the KEMRI-Oxford-Wellcome Trust Programme based in Nairobi.

Visit IRI’s Public Health page to learn more about our research and activities on malaria, meningitis and other climate-sensitive diseases.