News Archive

posted 01/05/05

Early Warning Systems for Malaria and Other Climate-Sensitive Diseases Focus of New Collaborative Center

The Earth Institute and PAHO/WHO join forces against malaria, dengue and cholera

Malaria Early Warning Systems (MEWS) gathering cumulative evidence for early and focused response. (WHO 2004) click for larger image

Stephen Zebiak, Director General of the Earth Institute’s International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI), is pleased to announce that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have designated the IRI as a collaborating research center. The new center, PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Early Warning Systems for Malaria and other Climate-Sensitive Diseases, will be directed by IRI’s Dr. Stephen Connor, a specialist in the geography of infectious diseases who has worked extensively on the connection between climate and malaria in Africa.

“The PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Early Warning Systems for Malaria and Other Climate-Sensitive Diseases will allow greater opportunity to pool the IRI’s knowledge and expertise in climate-health research with these two agencies that support countries in spearheading the control of these major diseases in less developed countries. It is a wonderful opportunity,” said Connor on the establishment of the new center.

The new center will facilitate improved knowledge and application of seasonal climate forecasts in regions facing high incidences of climate-related diseases such as malaria, dengue and cholera, with malaria alone threatening more than 110 million people living in epidemic prone regions in Africa. Additionally, where the predictive skill is high, the center will work with local agencies and other groups to help implement effective prevention and control measures in epidemic prone regions. For example, in September 2004, the WHO and the Southern Africa Development Community’s (SADC) Drought Monitoring Centre held the first Southern African Regional Epidemic Outlook Forum, in part, to review seasonal climate forecasts and the implications on the next malaria season as part of developing a Malaria Early Warning System in the region (http://www.malariajournal.com/content/3/1/37). The IRI will continue to work with PAHO and WHO on such initiatives as part of the new center’s activities and early next year will begin to explore new projects on malaria and dengue in Colombia and cholera in Asia and Africa.

The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI), part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, aims to enhance society’s ability to understand, anticipate and manage the impact of seasonal climate fluctuations, so as to improve the quality of life and the environment. From environmental monitoring and forecasting to climate-related risk management tools and practices in water resources, public health, agriculture, and food security, IRI and its partners focus on opportunities to build capacity for bringing climate information into regional planning and decision-making. For more information, visit http://iri.columbia.edu/

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the world’s leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor. For more information, visit www.earth.columbia.edu.