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WIREs Clim Change
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Climate change, malaria, and public health: accounting for socioeconomic contexts in past debates and future research

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Infectious diseases have long been a focal point of climate change impacts research, with malaria prominent among them. Although it is universally acknowledged that malaria transmission is affected by temperature and rainfall, projections of future levels of malaria under different climate change scenarios have been the object of scientific controversy. One underappreciated reason for this is because modeling research has not consistently accounted for the role of socioeconomic factors in malaria transmission. There is now a growing awareness that greater and more explicit discussion about the impact of socioeconomic factors on malaria transmission under climate change scenarios is needed, but this will require deepened multidisciplinary collaboration and greater attention to climate change vulnerability science. In order to address this need and to ensure that that outputs from this research help address the needs of public health, the following activities are suggested: systematic analyses of past events to assess the relative role of climatic and socioeconomic drivers of malaria transmission, the development of a consistent definition of vulnerability, the development of metrics and indicators for the key components of vulnerability to malaria, greater collaboration with stakeholders, and the development of health‐specific climate change scenarios under the shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs). Finally, researchers should more explicitly detail how their assumptions about future socioeconomic development affect research findings. WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:551–568. doi: 10.1002/wcc.406 This article is categorized under: Social Status of Climate Change Knowledge > Knowledge and Practice
Conceptual risk framework for climate change. Risk of climate‐related impacts results from the interaction of climate‐related hazards (including hazardous events and trends) with the vulnerability and exposure of human and natural systems. Changes in both the climate system (left) and socioeconomic processes including adaptation and mitigation (right) are drivers of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability. Source: IPCC.
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