Climate Change bringing Malaria to Mutare?
“We had isolated cases of imported malaria two years down the line (2015) and Mutare was a non malaria zone.”
By imported malaria, Mutiwi explains that the people suffering from the disease had contracted it elsewhere as the city was a non malaria zone.
The city is located in a mountainous region of Zimbabwe known for very cool temperatures.
The spokesman says when malaria cases were recorded for the first time in the city, they undertook some investigations to establish the source of the hitherto ‘foreign’ disease.
“But as of 2016, isolated cases of malaria were recorded and the city of Mutare had to engage ministry of health and child care to conduct investigations in the form of a survey among residents.
“The survey demanded experts to visit residential places of the affected residents and trap the mosquitoes during the night.”
The findings established that for the first time, the city had become a malaria zone.
“It turned out from the survey in 2016 that there were malaria cases locally and that resulted in the city moving out of the non malaria zone.
“Experts carried out surveys in Florida, Hobhouse, Mushamukadzi residential areas among other areas and their findings turned out to be positive.”
In 2016 the city recorded its first death and within two years the number of people who died as a result of malaria has increased to 31, according to Mutiwi.
Mutiwi described the deaths as ‘disturbing’ as the disease was ‘treatable’ and the city was working hard to move back to the non malaria status .
He says in the recent past, incessant rains recorded in the area resulted in the creation of huge stagnant water bodies, ideal breeding places for mosquitoes.
He does not completely rule out Climate Change in the emergence of malaria in a previously non malaria city.
“We believe that the rise in temperatures is due to the global Climate Change.
“While there could be other contributing factors although scientifically it has not been proven, we believe that the effects of Climate Change cannot be ruled out to have contributed to the emergence of malaria in Mutare.”
According to research funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, DfID, and published in a British newspaper, the Guardian several years, ago, another similar development may have long played out in Kenya.
According to the research, rising temperatures on the slopes of Mount Kenya have placed the local population at risk of malaria.
Climate Change has, according to the research, raised average temperatures, allowing the disease to creep into higher altitude areas where the population has little or no immunity.
The average temperature in the Central Highlands was 17C in 1989, with malaria completely absent from the region. This is because the parasite which causes malaria can only mature above 18C.
But with temperatures today averaging 19C, mosquitoes are carrying the disease into high altitude areas and epidemics have begun to be recorded.