Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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9.11.2. Malaria Epidemics

Malaria prevention illustrates approaches to adaptation that also apply to other vector-borne disease threats. To reduce the increased risks of malaria, human populations must take adaptive measures to diminish the impacts. Although malaria epidemics can be triggered by changes in meteorological or socioeconomic conditions, many health services fail to monitor these variables because indicators of risk for epidemic-prone areas have not been determined (Najera et al., 1998). Malaria surveillance and epidemic preparedness may benefit from recently developed tools that predict the seasonality and risks of epidemics by using satellite or ground-based meteorological data (e.g., Hay et al., 1998; Patz et al., 1998b). New approaches to mapping the distribution of malaria vectors over large areas may facilitate species-specific vector control activities. It has been shown in western Kenya that the risk of malaria transmission in the highlands can be predicted with a simple rainfall- and temperature-dependent predictive model (Githeko et al., 2000).

Epidemics are focal in nature and often may be controlled by limited application of safe and effective residual insecticides. Parasite resistance to antimalarials is a threat to malaria control programs; therefore, it is essential that drug sensitivity is reviewed regularly. At the personal level, insecticide-protected fabrics (e.g., bednets) have been shown to be effective against infective mosquito bites (Legeler, 1998).

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