Papua New Guinea: increased cases of malaria expected because of rising temperatures

science | Aug 03, 2012 | By Martin Barillas

According to a Fides news service report, approximately 90% of the population of Papua New Guinea is at risk of deadly malaria.

The mountainous island country see approximately 1.9 million cases every year. Lack of infrastructure, coupled with a rainforest environment and a human population scattered across a nearly trackless land, has hampered efforts to eradicate or control malaria. Mosquitoes, which are the vectors of the disease, are prolific in the rainsoaked and hot climate of the island. 

However, prevention has been improved through the distribution of mosquito nets laden with insecticide. The nets, which protect potential human hosts of the malarial protozon have now been distributed to every district of Papua New Guinea. The country represents some 36% of all confirmed cases of malaria in the Western Pacific region, according to the Fides report. Preventing infection by mosquitoes carrying malaria to humans is key to eradication. Mosquitoes quickly adapt to human migration and increased temperatures,while malaria tends to spread every time the weather changes.

The Scientific Program on Climate Change in the Pacific shows that the maximum temperatures in Port Moresby increased by 0.11 degrees every 10 years since 1950, and may even increase between 0.4 and one degree by 2030. The prediction is that about 200, 000 people will be infected who live in areas of the island at higher altitudes than those living at lower altitudes where malaria has long been prevalent.

The National Program for Malaria Control, Population Services International, OilSearch Health Foundation, and the Institute of Medical Research, are trying new strategies towards vector control. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half of humanity is at risk of contracting malaria. Pregnant women, children, and persons who are HIV positive are particularly vulnerable. There were 216 million cases reported in 2010. Of these, 655, 000 were fatal worldwide. Fortunately, this was a decrease of 25% compared to 2000. In Papua New Guinea, the world's first test of mosquito nets treated with insecticide led to a national distribution program in 1989 which recorded a decrease of clinical cases in health centers. 



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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