Correlation of climate variability and malaria: A retrospective comparative study, Southwest Ethiopia
BACKGROUND: Climatic variables can determine malaria transmission dynamics. To see the correlation between malaria occurrence and climatic variables, records of malaria episodes over eight years period were analyzed incorporating climatic variables around Gilgel-Gibe Hydroelectric Dam and control sites.
METHODS: Records of 99,206 confirmed malaria episodes registered between 2003 and 2011 were analyzed along with local meteorological data of the same duration. Data were analyzed with SPSS statistical software version 20 for Windows. Spearman correlation coefficient was estimated as a measure of the correlation.
RESULTS: The major peaks of malaria prevalence were observed following the peaks of rainfall in the Gilgel-Gibe Hydroelectric Dam site. In the control site, the peaks of malaria in some years coincided with the peaks of rainfall, and the pattern of rainfall was relatively less fluctuating. Mean rainfall was negatively correlated with number of malaria cases at lags of 0 and 1 month, but positively correlated at lags of 2 to 4 months. Mean relative humidity showed significant positive correlations at lags of 3 to 4 months. Monthly mean maximum and minimum temperatures weakly correlated at lags of 0 to 4 months.
CONCLUSIONS: Correlations of malaria and climate variables were different for the two sites; in Gilgel-Gibe, rainfall and relative humidity showed positive correlations. However, in the control site, the correlation of weather variables and malaria episodes were insignificant. Exploration of additional factors such as vegetation index and physico-chemical nature of mosquito breeding site may improve understanding of determinants of malaria dynamics in the area.
KEYWORDS: climatic variables, correlations, Ethiopia, Gilgel-Gibe, malaria