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Malaria in the African highlands: past, present and future

Author: S.W. Lindsay & W.J.M. Martens
Organisation: World Health Organization
Publish Date: 1996
Country: Africa
Sector: Health
Method: Scenarios
Type: Report
Language: English
Tags: Malaria, Africa

Many of the first European settlers in Africa sought refuge from the heat and diseases of the plains by moving to the cool and salubrious highlands. Although many of the highlands were originally malaria free, there has been a progressive rise in the incidence of the disease over the last 50 years, largely as a consequence of agroforestry development, and it has been exacerbated by scarce health resources. In these areas of fringe transmission where the malaria pattern is unstable, epidemics may be precipitated by relatively subtle climatic changes. Since there is little immunity against the disease in these communities, outbreaks can be devastating, resulting in a substantial increase in morbidity and death among both children and adults. We present here the results obtained using a mathematical model designed to identify these epidemic-prone regions in the African highlands and the differences expected to occur as a result of projected global climate change. These highlands should be recognized as an area of special concern. We further recommend that a regional modelling approach should be adopted to assess the extent and severity of this problem and help improve disease surveillance and the quality of health care delivered in this unstable ecosystem.
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