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Global warming to gift malaria to State

KARNATAKA along with Maharashtra and Kerala will become endemic malaria states by 2050, due to climate change, says a study.

Various effects of climate changes, including drop in food production and submergence of coastal cities, have long been predicted by scientists across the globe. Now, scientists say that climate change can possibly affect transmission of malaria in areas that were relatively less prone to it previously. 

According to the study titled ‘Climate change and malaria in India’ by Malaria Research Centre, National Physical Laboratory and NATCOM Project Management Cell, the two southern states and Maharashtra will see a massive spurt in malaria cases over the next four decades.

Featured in the latest issue of Current Science magazine under a special section – Climate change and India, the study takes into consideration the current temperature and relative humidity to predict the new areas that will become epidemic to malaria due to the expected rise in temperature and humidity. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has already stated that global climate will increase by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius.

The study indicates that the risk of malaria infection will increase by 5 to 15 per cent in developing countries in the coming years. At present, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in the Central India and West Bengal, Orissa and southern Assam in East are classified as epidemic zones for malaria in the country. 

As the temperature in central Indian states is likely to rise, it will become difficult for malaria mosquitoes to breed. The study holds that south western states may take the place of states in central India and become epidemic malaria areas. 

Even the transmission duration of the mosquitoes is expected to widen in northern and western states and shorten in the southern states as a result of temperature and relative humidity in malaria transmission.

Hilly areas  which have been malaria free will become prone to malaria in the middle of the current century. 

It was imperative, therefore, for states to develop capacities to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, the scientists suggested. 

They advised the governments to focus on creating vector specific regional maps to detect vulnerable areas, improve surveillance and monitoring. 

The study also called for integration of environmental management plans and for improving accessibility to medical health services. 

(Published in Deccan Herald on 16th August, 2011) *This was an exclusive story of mine, which came in Page 1 anchor. But no byline was given.

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