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How Malaria Could Spiral Out of Control in Zimbabwe Due to Climate Change

A Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito on a human finger. The Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito is proven to be a vector associated with transmission of the West Nile Virus.  (Image: Reuters)

A Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito on a human finger. The Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito is proven to be a vector associated with transmission of the West Nile Virus. (Image: Reuters)

Recently, malaria has been recorded causing a severe outbreak in parts of Chimanimani, which lies on the eastern border with Mozambique. This outbreak is considered to be a result of warmer temperatures due to climate change.

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The monsoon has hit hard on many parts of the world, with Africa and Asia suffering the most from Mosquito-borne diseases. As anecdotal evidence suggest, climate change is having an impact on the spread of malaria in Zimbabwe. Recently, malaria has been recorded causing a severe outbreak in parts of Chimanimani, which lies on the eastern border with Mozambique. This outbreak is considered to be a result of warmer temperatures due to climate change. In fact, it has been speculated that in the next 60 years, the Malaria incidences can double.

According to the UN’s expert panel on climate change, the rising global temperatures have contributed in multiplying the risk of malaria in tropical countries like Zimbabwe and Mozambique. While malaria has been an old enemy, it has found a new way to propagate. The panel, in its Fifth Assessment Report, said that it expects cases of malaria in regions like Chimanimani, already a hotspot, to double by 2080. It also mentioned that this may lead to expansion of malaria cases to new areas that are currently malaria-free.

Climate change has caused problems in the areas of Zimbabwe that are already malaria-prone areas. This is because warmer temperatures create fertile breeding conditions for the malaria-carrier, Anopheles mosquito. A report in the journal Nature Climate Change back in 2013 also spoke about how the rising temperature has led to the growth of hundreds of dangerous pests and pathogens.

Out of these, insects like mosquitoes spread quicker than others. They increase their range by tens of kilometres a year due to climate change.

The areas that are affected by the climate change are Rushinga, Muzarabani, Centenary, Mbire, Guruve, Mt Darwin, Mazowe in the Mashonaland Central province, Buhera District of Manicaland province, Triangle and parts of Chipinge’s low lying areas.

There has been evidence to suggest that malaria is already spiraling out of control in Zimbabwe. In fact, there is also a danger of increase in number of malaria cases.

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