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Irrigation in arid regions can increase malaria risk for a decade

EurekAlert (12-Aug-2013)

Irrigation in arid regions can increase malaria risk for a decade

EurekAlert (12-Aug-2013 )

New irrigation systems in arid regions benefit farmers but can increase the local malaria risk for more than a decade — which is longer than previously believed — despite intensive and costly use of insecticides, new University of Michigan-led study in northwest India concludes.

The study’s findings demonstrate the need to include a strong, binding commitment to finance and implement long-term public health and safety programs when building large-scale irrigation projects, according to the researchers.

The researchers studied changes in land use and malaria risk around a large irrigation project under construction in a semi-arid area in the northeast part of the Indian state of Gujarat. Water from the project is eventually expected to cover more than 47 million acres and will benefit about a million farmers.

Malaria risk in arid regions often rises when irrigation is introduced, due to increased amounts of standing water that serve as mosquito breeding sites. Globally, the number of people at risk of contracting malaria due to proximity to irrigation canals and related infrastructure has been estimated at 800 million, which represents about 12 percent of the global malaria burden.

Historical evidence shows that after irrigation is introduced into arid locations, the increased malaria risk eventually subsides and that this food versus disease dilemma is a temporary stage on the road to greater prosperity.

The new study demonstrates that this transition phase from high risk to low disease prevalence can last more than a decade. The study is the first to combine satellite imagery of vegetation cover with public health records of malaria cases over a large region to track changes that occur as a mega-irrigation project progresses.

Story Source : University of Michigan

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Page publiée le 16 mars 2016