News / Health

Irrigation Brings Malaria Along with Water

A Border Security Force soldier wears a mask to prevent mosquito bites as he patrols the remote Maharanicherra area in India's northeastern state of Tripura. (December 11, 2007 file photo)
A Border Security Force soldier wears a mask to prevent mosquito bites as he patrols the remote Maharanicherra area in India's northeastern state of Tripura. (December 11, 2007 file photo)
Art Chimes
Irrigation can make a big difference in agricultural production and in the lives of farm families. But the artificial application of water may not all be for the better. A new study describes how irrigation can lead to a surge in malaria that can persist for a decade or more.

The malaria parasite is spread by mosquitoes, and mosquitoes like to breed in standing water. So when a previously dry area is irrigated, the disease can take hold.
 
“What happens is that when you irrigate, there is more, in a sense, more breeding habitats for the mosquito,” explains University of Michigan scientist Mercedes Pascual. She and her colleagues studied areas in northern India’s Gujarat state, where irrigation was introduced at various times. They analyzed how malaria progressed along with the spread of irrigation.
 
What they found was that after farmers began irrigating their crops, the malaria risk increased dramatically. The researchers thought maybe the malaria cases surged because there was little effort to control the mosquitoes that spread the disease.
 
“In fact, we saw the opposite,” Pascual said in a telephone interview. “This transition stage was characterized not just by heightened malaria risk, but also by more intervention to control the mosquito vector.”

Eventually, the mosquito control efforts take hold, but the researchers found high rates of malaria persist for a decade or more - longer than had been previously thought.
 
A laborer sleeps on a bed covered with a net on a hot summer morning in New Delhi, May 23, 2013.A laborer sleeps on a bed covered with a net on a hot summer morning in New Delhi, May 23, 2013.
x
A laborer sleeps on a bed covered with a net on a hot summer morning in New Delhi, May 23, 2013.
A laborer sleeps on a bed covered with a net on a hot summer morning in New Delhi, May 23, 2013.
Pascual suggests that the irrigation project managers need to focus more on reducing places where mosquitoes might breed. And health officials may need to ramp up their approach, which she says has mostly focused on indoor insecticide spraying.

“And what we are saying is that those measures have to be sustained, and sustained and also planned for, for the long term.”
 
In areas with low rainfall, the researchers write in their research paper, “irrigation offers considerable rewards.” But as University of Michigan scientist Mercedes Pascual and her team point out, irrigation can also bring with it years of high rates of malaria unless better planning and control measures come along with the water supply.
 
Their findings are published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs