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WHO Calls for Climate Change Research

New findings highlight the need for more research on the impact of climate change and tropical diseases, including malaria.

May 28, 2024

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that insufficient data is available on the actual and potential impacts of climate change on malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The WHO’s Task Team on Climate Change, NTDs, and Malaria, along with Reaching the Last Mile (RLM), a portfolio of global health programs, investments, and initiatives working towards disease elimination, released these findings after a review of more than 42,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

The groups found rising temperatures and changing weather patterns are altering the spread of malaria and NTDs, with the potential to place additional strain on health care systems. As the geographic range of disease carriers, such as mosquitoes, expands, so does the risk of introducing these diseases to new, unprepared areas. The WHO findings spotlight shifts in prevalence, incidence, range, and intensity of malaria and a number of NTDs.    

“The findings presented in this major review highlight the need for more comprehensive, collaborative, and standardized modelling, so that we can better understand and predict the effects of climate change on malaria and NTDs, both directly and indirectly,” said Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, director of WHO’s Global NTD Programme, who led the study. “This important and timely review reveals alarming trends and is a call to urgent action. Malaria transmission is likely to shift both polewards and to higher altitude, while the mosquito vector responsible for transmission of dengue and chikungunya is predicted to continue to expand its range. If we are to protect and build upon the hard-won victories of the past two decades, the time to mobilize is now.”

“We have recently seen the consequences of extreme weather events on malaria, and they are only predicted to become more commonplace,” added Dr. Daniel Ngamije Madandi, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme.

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