Impacts of Deforestation on Childhood Malaria Depend on Wealth and Vector Biology

Tafesse Kefyalew Estifanos, Brendan Fisher, Gillian L. Galford, Taylor H. Ricketts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ecosystem change can profoundly affect human well-being and health, including through changes in exposure to vector-borne diseases. Deforestation has increased human exposure to mosquito vectors and malaria risk in Africa, but there is little understanding of how socioeconomic and ecological factors influence the relationship between deforestation and malaria risk. We examined these interrelationships in six sub-Saharan African countries using demographic and health survey data linked to remotely sensed environmental variables for 11,746 children under 5 years old. We found that the relationship between deforestation and malaria prevalence varies by wealth levels. Deforestation is associated with increased malaria prevalence in the poorest households, but there was not significantly increased malaria prevalence in the richest households, suggesting that deforestation has disproportionate negative health impacts on the poor. In poorer households, malaria prevalence was 27%–33% larger for one standard deviation increase in deforestation across urban and rural populations. Deforestation is also associated with increased malaria prevalence in regions where Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles funestus are dominant vectors, but not in areas of Anopheles arabiensis. These findings indicate that deforestation is an important driver of malaria risk among the world's most vulnerable children, and its impact depends critically on often-overlooked social and biological factors. An in-depth understanding of the links between ecosystems and human health is crucial in designing conservation policies that benefit people and the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GH000764
Number of pages16
JournalGeoHealth
Volume8
Issue number3
Early online date28 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Impacts of Deforestation on Childhood Malaria Depend on Wealth and Vector Biology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this