From the University of Liverpool it seems they are confusing seasonal scale weather with climate.
Climate model to predict malaria outbreaks in India
Scientists from the University of Liverpool are working with computer modelling specialists in India to predict areas of the country that are at most risk of malaria outbreaks, following changes in monsoon rainfall.
The number of heavy rainfall events in India has increased over the past 50 years, but research has tended to focus on the impact this has on agriculture rather than the vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and Japanese Encephalitis.
The University’s School of Environmental Sciences is working with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation (C-MMACS), Bangalore, to develop technology that will help decision makers and planners target areas that are prone to large scale climate variability and malaria epidemics.
The number of malaria cases in India has dropped from two million a year to 1.5 million in recent years, but the percentage of the more dangerous form of the disease, P. falciparum infection, has increased in some areas. The model could help inform early intervention methods to prevent the spread of malaria at key points in the seasonal monsoon cycle, reducing the economic and health impacts of the disease.
Dr Andy Morse, from the University’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “We already know that an anomalous season of heavy rainfall, when heat and humidity are high, allows insects such as mosquitoes to thrive and spread infection to humans. In order to prepare health services and prevent epidemics we must have a way of predicting when these events are likely to occur in areas that are not accustomed to annual outbreaks of malaria.
“Liverpool has developed human and animal disease models that can be integrated into seasonal forecasting systems to give a picture of what the climate impacts on disease risk will be like in four to six months time.”
Dr Prashant Goswami, from C-MMACS, India, said: “We are rapidly developing our computer modelling capabilities using technology that can address the impacts of climate variability on agriculture and water systems. This knowledge, together with the Liverpool models of vector-borne diseases, will help us develop systems to predict when changes in the monsoonal rain may occur and which areas are most likely to see an increase in malaria.
“Health authorities in India are already very successful at controlling malaria cases, but this new research should support decision makers in keeping ahead of the more serious occurrences of the disease, which is starting to increase across the country alongside the changing climate conditions.”
The work, funded by the UK India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI), forms part of the University’s Global Health research theme, which brings together experts in infectious disease, reproductive health, and mental health from across the institution.
I have had malaria myself four times. Twice I had the non-recurring type, the one that doesn’t come back. Then I had the recurrent kind, the one that does come back. Finally, about a year after I moved to Fiji and left the malaria mosquitoes behind, I had a a bout of that recurrent malaria. Then I took the medicine that kills the recurring kind, and I haven’t had it since.
In addition, my wife is a Family Nurse Practitioner. In the Solomons she worked with the outlying clinics in the capital. Then she worked for a couple years as the Peace Corps Medical Officer, charged with keeping the Peace Corps Volunteers healthy. Then for three years, she was the only medical person on a very remote island where I ran a shipyard with a couple dozen employees, plus wives and kids. So she is extremely knowledgeable on the subject, and I learned all about malaria from her and from textbooks.
Then in Fiji, she and I ran a three-country health program, which included Vanuatu which is malarious.
As a result, I’ve seem malaria in all its forms and guises. I have participated in a variety of campaigns to prevent and reduce and interfere with the parasite and its mosquito host. I’ve had the trucks with the malathion chug down the street trailing their clouds. I’ve been involved with indoor DDT spraying. I’ve run bed-net programs. I’ve put oil in tanks and ponds to kill the mosquito larvae. It was a constant drain on the crews and staffs I ran in the Solomon Islands. Someone was always sick, someone was always out, someone was always sweating or shivering.
Here’s my take on this study. In India, the malaria is seasonal with the monsoon. Will the timing and location of the monsoon rains change in the future? Well, they always have changed in the past, so why wouldn’t they change?
Will the current generation of climate models help in planning for that? No way. No way at all. Even their promoters admit in private that they are useless, or worse, actively misleading, at a regional level.
But even if the models said that at some point in the future you’d get more rain in region X, or that you’d have earlier rains in region Y, how on earth would that help you? The climate models can’t predict what will happen in the oncoming monsoon season, which is what might help.
And even if the models someday could predict the monsoons locations and timing say seven times out of ten, I’m not sure what you’d do. The most cost effective means of preventing malaria are bed nets. But even if the models said this monsoon might be early and might hit hardest in the north, I wouldn’t gamble and put all the bed nets in the north.
Instead, I’d do what I assume they are doing now—watch and monitor and take preventive measures where and as needed, because the real need might end up being in the south.
So I’d see where the rains come, sure, and predict it if I could. But malaria is a disease and it spreads on its own strange timetable. One year you’ll have lots of rain and not much malaria. The next year you’ll have less rain, and more malaria. Who knew? It depends on timing and the life cycle of the mosquito, and the timing and cycle of the malaria parasite, and how many people are in an area, and how well they keep mosquito breeding pools down, and which travelers take the disease where, and a dozen other things.
For example, in the Solomons you could bet that in December and January you’d get an upsurge in the malaria cases. But not because of the weather. The problem was kids coming home from the boarding schools, which the main kind of grade schools there. The boarding schools often didn’t have bed nets and as a consequence had endemic malaria. When they came back to their towns and villages, they brought the malaria with them.
But even knowing that was coming, every year like clockwork, didn’t help in the fight. All you could do is do what you could to protect yourself, and then brace against the inevitable onslaught of malaria-ridden mosquitoes in December.
And anyone who thinks that a climate model could help with that hasn’t thought it through. The reality is you have to fight malaria as, when, and where it develops, not where it’s predicted to develop.
Regards to all,