Many tropical diseases such as malaria, Chikungunya and dengue are transmitted to humans via mosquitoes and other carriers known as vectors. These vector-borne diseases continue to have a major impact on human health in the developing world: each year, more than a billion people become infected and around a million people die. In addition, around one in six cases of illness and disability worldwide arise from these diseases.
Malaria continues to attract the most attention of all the vector-borne diseases by virtue of causing the greatest global disease burden. However, others such as dengue are not only resurgent in some regions, but threaten a vast proportion of the world’s population.
Climate change remains a substantial threat to future human health and since the behaviour of disease carriers like mosquitoes is known to be extremely sensitive to temperature and rainfall, it seems unquestionable that climate change will affect many, if not all, of these diseases. What is less clear, however, is the extent to which climate increases the risk of becoming infected in certain regions compared to other factors such as poverty or fragile health systems.
In addition, although the number of new cases of diseases such as malaria appears to be declining worldwide, it is still increasing in many regions for a variety of reasons; the continued spread of insecticide resistance, changes in land use etc. Which of these factors will be most influential over the coming decades remains a moot question as of now.