SEMINAR: Prevention, control and elimination of climate sensitive diseases in the context of climate change adaptation

Date and Time

Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 12:30 to 13:30


Location: LIDC Upper Meeting Room, 36 Gordon Square

Madeleine C. Thomson, International Research Institute for Climate and Society and The Earth Institute at Columbia University

Madeleine Thomson is a senior research scientist at the IRI with over eight years of service in the management team as director of impacts research, chair of the Africa Regional Programme and senior advisor to the PAHO-WHO Collaborating Centre for malaria and other climate-sensitive diseases. She currently leads the Health portfolio at the IRI. She trained originally as a field entomologist and has spent much of her career engaged in operational research in support of large-scale health interventions, mostly in Africa. Her research focuses on the development of new tools for improving climate sensitive health interventions (e.g. risk mapping and early warning systems for malaria, onchocerciasis, kala azar, etc). This work has expanded into air-borne infections and she is currently developing a substantive program for meningitis environmental risk assessment in anticipation of the new conjugate A vaccine. In recent years she has become increasingly interested in improving institutional and human capacity for incorporating climate information into health planning. To help achieve the latter she is working to create a “health and climate” disciplinary interface and a “climate smart” public health community
Malaria is widely identified and studied as the most climate sensitive vector-borne disease. This disease occurs in geographic regions where the climate is suitable for both the Anopheles mosquito vector and the malaria parasite: the seasonality of disease, year-to-year variability and in some regions long term trends, are often governed by climatic factors such as rainfall, temperature and humidity.
Public health policymakers and practitioners are increasingly concerned about the potential impact of climate as well as environmental and social changes on the effectiveness of current and future infectious disease control and elimination programs.  Climate change adaptation program are increasing in scope and resourcing. However, surprisingly, many control programmes of climate sensitive diseases and much of climate change adaptation is not informed by grounded knowledge and information on the climate at appropriate space and time scales.
Climate is only one of many important drivers of malaria (others include migration, land use change, control measures etc.).  However, climate is unusual in that it has the potential to be integrated into health sector information systems because of a) the nature of climate: its climatology, seasonality, diurnal rhythm and potential predictability at multiple time scales (weather, seasonal, decadal and climate change) and b) the fact that it is routinely measured in a systematic way by land observations, remote sensing and global model outputs all around the world. Consequently climate information has the potential to inform a wide range of health decisions.
In this talk the practical uses of climate information for malaria prevention, control and elimination will be presented along with the contribution that the national meteorological agencies in Africa are making to close the information gap.

RSVP: Luke Harman (