Humphrey Ngala Ndi, University of Yaounde I, Yaounde, Cameroon
Presentation Title: Environmental change and the relapse of malaria in Maroua, far north of Cameroon
Malaria is the greatest health challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. Innovations in controlling the disease are a permanent occurrence in both private and public sector agencies. Examples include the Roll-Back-Malaria Initiative, the free distribution of treated mosquito nets and free treatment of severe malaria in infants. Researchers and policymakers believe that global warming will aggravate the prevalence of infectious diseases, including malaria. Some evidence now indicates that the malaria belt will gradually expand into southern Europe due to rising temperatures and rainfall. The far north region of Cameroon (mostly Sahel), has experienced severe flooding in the past few years, resulting in an increase in instances of malaria. In August 2013, over 10,000 malaria cases were registered in Maroua and close to one thousand patients died. Notwithstanding the role of global warming on rainfall and temperatures and other factors in the ecology of malaria, this study posited that though environmental change provides the enabling environment for the malaria vector, economic and social factors aggravate epidemic characteristics in the region and city.
Key Lessons Learned
- Malaria transmission in Maroua is strongly seasonal in rhythm.
- Along with climate change, health system performance, poverty, culture, and local traditions are factors in the increase of malaria in the city of Maroua.
- The increasing frequency of floods aggravates the rates of malaria transmission. However, not all episodes are caused by the intensities of rain storms alone; issues of infrastructure, including the collapse of dykes and dams on the Logone River, have also contributed to the increase.
- Although the ownership of treated mosquito nets is over 85%, few people use them.
- House windows, usually open during hot nights to increase ventilation, are generally not fitted with mosquito nets.
- The death rate from malaria is aggravated by poverty. The region ranks poorest in the country with a poverty rate of 56.3%, above the national average of 38.7%.
Policy/Practice Implications of Research
- Understanding how global climate changes affect changing malaria prevalence is important in the context of urban planning and proper health care policy and infrastructure.
- The built environment as it is reflected in urban management policies can help prevent or reduce malaria transmission.
Knowledge Gaps and Needs
- The increasing flood rate in the far north region of Cameroon merits further investigation into the possible relationships between floods and the increase in Malaria. It may have implications on other meteorological events occurring elsewhere on the globe, such asEl Niño and La Niña events.
- Architectural designs to integrate malaria risk are needed and must be enforced by Local Councils.