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Analysis of impacts of climate variability on malaria transmission in Sri Lanka and the development of an early warning system

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Results from Relevant Prior Research

Since 1997, the IRI has been producing seasonal climate forecasts for the entire globe.These forecasts have better skill in selected tropical regions. Among the regions with high skills is Sri Lanka. In May 2000, the IRI entered into a partnership with the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka to provide climate and hydrological forecasts for the Mahaweli and Walawe River Basins. The catchments of these river basins lie in part in the Uva province which also has high predictability (figure 3).

Thus much climate, hydrological and environmental data collected for this project is already available. Our analysis of Sri Lankan hydrology and climate has already established climatic and hydrological teleconnections and prediction skill for Sri Lanka. In addition, statistical forecasting schemes and downscaling schemes have been developed at the IRI for Sri Lanka for a project on the of the use of climate information to mitigate human-elephant conflict. Other relevant ongoing projects in Sri Lanka include a program to investigate the impact of climate on natural disasters, tea, coconut and rice agriculture. All of these projects are described and accessible through internet. During 2002 the IRI made a significant increase in its commitment to health applications research. Two new specialist research scientists, each with more than 10 years experience researching the interactions between climate-environment and infectious disease, were hired. The IRI health applications team have worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, where they specialized in using environmental data to develop integrated methods of malaria stratification, environmental monitoring and epidemic early warning. Guidelines on these methods were developed for WHO’s Roll Back Malaria Technical Resource Network on Malaria Epidemic Prevention and Control.

Columbia University Scientists associated with the IRI have an ongoing program on the use of hydrological models to establish mosquito abundance with field studies in Florida and New York. They have developed an approach to establish relationships between remotely sensed data, hydrological parameters and mosquito abundance(27) which in turn may be related to malaria prevalence.

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