16 December 2015 10:45

Conflict does not represent a substantial barrier to the goal of eliminating malaria from Africa according to researchers

However, very few studies have quantitatively assessed the associations between conflicts and malaria transmission, particularly across several countries.

The analysis in the Malaria Journal by Dr Luigi Sedda from Lancaster Medical School and Professor Andrew Tatem from Southampton looked at the association between conflicts and variations in the prevalence of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite over 13 years in sub-Saharan Africa.

They found that there were 17 countries with a decreased prevalence of the parasite compared with 12 suffering from increased transmission.

Some of the countries with the highest transmission pre-conflict were still found with lower transmission post-conflict. 

One of the most significant characteristic in conflicts associated with an increase in malaria is violence. 

Dr Sedda said: "Conflicts are not the major factor controlling malaria changes with effects limited in time. Therefore it is possible that where health care systems are relatively efficient and malaria interventions are in place, post-conflict reduction in malaria prevalence is feasible."

The researchers concluded that: “Resilience to the negative effects of conflict on malaria across much of Africa is evident, offering hope for the longer term prospects of control and elimination of the disease in the face of any future violence.