According to the World Malaria Report 2011, there were about 216 million cases of malaria and an estimated 655,000 deaths in 2010. Malaria mortality rates have fallen by more than 25% globally since 2000, and by 33% in the WHO African Region. However, most deaths still occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria.

CIWEM believes that as resistance to drugs develops the medium term focus needs to be on better water management strategies.

As the climate changes, mosquitoes responsible for malaria will spread, by accessing warm high altitudes, in places once free of the disease. Recent models and scenarios have estimated that 260–320 million more people will be affected by malaria by 2080 as a consequence of new transmission zones.

Access to core anti-malaria interventions will not altogether eliminate the mosquito vector or malaria parasite. CIWEM believes that malaria has gone beyond being just a health issue and that it is an environmental management issue that affects where and how people live.

Intensified irrigation, dams and other water related projects contribute importantly to this disease burden by providing sites to breed. Water management has received far less attention compared to other control measures but as mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to pesticides and drugs are becoming less effective, finding water management-based interventions is becoming an increasingly important alternative. Better management of water resources reduces transmission of malaria and also other vector-borne diseases such as Schistosomiasis.

World Malaria Day on 25th April marks a critical moment, and CIWEM calls on countries, communities and NGOs to show leadership in prioritising malaria, increasing their health budgets and in improving water and sanitation systems. Effective environmental management strategies are going to be key to managing some of major health problems such as Malaria, particularly as our climate is changing.

CIWEM’s Executive Director, Nick Reeves, OBE, says: “Tackling malaria is an incredibly important objective, failure to do so helps to perpetuate poverty and loss of productivity, at a time when the climate is changing and the habitations of these parasites spread. Building water management strategies into health plans for Malaria is essential, without them the disease will never be properly tackled”.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, CIWEM, is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world. www.ciwem.org.

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