HYDROMAL – combining disciplines to control a killer
Malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites, kills an estimated 1-2 million children in sub-Saharan Africa every year. Scientists at IBERS have teamed up with physical geographers in IGES studying new ways of predicting the spread of malaria, providing a valuable new tool for those attempting to control the disease.
The work combines well-established mathematical models with pioneering geographical and hydrological studies of mosquito breeding grounds and how they could be affected by climate change. Changes in rainfall could be more important than temperature, so IBERS staff are working in the field in Tanzania, in a valley that has some of the world’s worst malaria transmission levels.
Benefits: The HYDROMAL project funded by NERC will fill a critical gap in knowledge, and add value to existing information. This
will lead to better predictions of malaria hotspots, helping health workers to better target their efforts.
The distribution of mosquito breeding sites and their closeness to humans is one of the main drivers of transmission. It is likely that the few small permanent wetlands that remain during the dry season are an important factor and a potential target for interactions.
The big picture: Interdisciplinary work is vital. By bringing their own expertise to bear on existing knowledge, IBERS’ scientists are paving the way for future studies to link climate change with the disease. It is an example of IBERS’ ability to bring different disciplines together to inspire new ways of thinking.
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