An integrated risk and vulnerability assessment framework for climate change and malaria transmission in East Africa
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Background: Malaria is one of the key research concerns in climate change-health relationships. Numerous risk assessments and modelling studies provide evidence that the transmission range of malaria will expand with rising temperatures, adversely impacting on vulnerable communities in the East African highlands. While there exist multiple lines of evidence for the influence of climate change on malaria transmission, there is insufficient understanding of the complex and interdependent factors that determine the risk and vulnerability of human populations at the community level. Moreover, existing studies have had limited focus on the nature of the impacts on vulnerable communities or how well they are prepared to cope. In order to address these gaps, a systems approach was used to present an integrated risk and vulnerability assessment framework for studies of community level risk and vulnerability to malaria due to climate change. Results: Drawing upon published literature on existing frameworks, a systems approach was applied to characterize the factors influencing the interactions between climate change and malaria transmission. This involved structural analysis to determine influential, relay, dependent and autonomous variables in order to construct a detailed causal loop conceptual model that illustrates the relationships among key variables. An integrated assessment framework that considers indicators of both biophysical and social vulnerability was proposed based on the conceptual model. Conclusions: A major conclusion was that this integrated assessment framework can be implemented using Bayesian Belief Networks, and applied at a community level using both quantitative and qualitative methods with stakeholder engagement. The approach enables a robust assessment of community level risk and vulnerability to malaria, along with contextually relevant and targeted adaptation strategies for dealing with malaria transmission that incorporate both scientific and community perspectives.
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Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified