Worldwide Deforestation Increasing Malaria Outbreaks




According to a report by the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations, nearly 130 million hectares of trees have been lost due to deforestation since 1990.

A study of 67 less-developed malaria-endemic nations titled, "Anthropogenic forest loss and malaria prevalence: a comparative examination of the causes and disease consequences of deforestation in developing nations," published in AIMS Environmental Science, led by Lehigh University sociologist Dr. Kelly Austin, finds a link between deforestation and increasing malaria rates across developing nations.

Malaria is an infectious disease tied to environmental conditions, as mosquitoes represent the disease vector. Deforestation, is not a natural phenomenon, but rather results predominantly from human activities, or anthropogenically. The study builds upon evidence that patterns in climate change, deforestation, and other human-induced changes to the natural environment are amplifying malaria transmission.

The analytic research strategy used also allowed the authors to look at the causes of deforestation, in order to have a broader focus on the upstream or human-induced causes of land-use change that impact malaria vulnerabilities.

Results of the study suggest that rural population growth and specialization in agriculture are two key influences on forest loss in developing nations.