By Marisol Tuso
September 30, 2022
Malaria and climate change
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria worldwide. Scientists have described the disease as involving a complex interplay between humans, mosquitoes, the plasmodium parasite, and the climate.
Researchers showed the link between the transmission of malaria and climate change. Variation in climatic conditions, such as temperature, rainfall patterns, and humidity, has a profound effect on the longevity of the mosquito and the development of malaria parasites in the mosquito, and subsequently malaria transmission.
In the Philippines, the principal vector of malaria is Anopheles Flavirostris which breeds in clear and fresh-water streams in foothills and mountain slopes. In my province, the highest number of cases were recorded in the far-flung and mountainous areas, where mosquitoes thrive as they call “malaria begins when the road ends.”
With effective strategies for malaria diagnosis and treatment, vector control such as Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLINs), Indoor Residual Spraying, and larval control, and strong advocacy and social mobilization in the prevention and control, malaria cases and deaths in the Philippines have been reduced significantly. Around 42 of the 81 provinces were declared malaria-free with only seven provinces having local transmission.
The fight against malaria is a continuing battle. Sustaining gains from all the efforts being done is still a challenge to avoid the resurgence of cases. We hope that the efforts we have shared in the communities that we have served will sustain. That would be our legacy, together with our partners, of being part of that historic fight against the disease.
But while Errol, Elvy, Art, Lelani, and I have won that battle against malaria in the provinces we have served, our fight against climate change is going to be our biggest one.
Virtual hangout for Climate Reality Leaders in Mindanao
Marisol is the Mindanao Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She has been working in the development sector for 16 years. She is a specialist in training, institution and community development, information, education, and communication (IEC), and gender and social inclusion. Aside from being a broadcast journalist since 1997, she also served as the Project Coordinator of the Global Fund for Malaria Component Project for 10 years and as Training and IEC Specialist of the Philippine Cold Chain Project.
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Hisgutanang Klima or “Climate Discussions” is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 100 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Mindanao.
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