| The IRI issues climate forecasts every month for the globe, with views by individual continent. The forecasts are for three-month periods extending six months in advance.|
Climate-related diseases such as malaria threaten more than 110 million lives in sub-Saharan Africa. To supplement the many efforts to curb the massive loss of life attributed to this and similar infectious diseases, the Earth Institute is utilizing its expertise in the field of climatology to forecast possible outbreaks.
Stephen Zebiak, director general of the Earth Institute International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI), has announced that the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization have designated the IRI as a collaborating research center.
The new center, PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Early Warning Systems for Malaria and other Climate-Sensitive Diseases, will be directed by the IRI's Stephen Connor, a specialist in the geography of infectious diseases who has worked extensively on the connection between climate and malaria in Africa. "The PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Early Warning Systems for Malaria and Other Climate-Sensitive Diseases will allow greater opportunity to pool the IRI's knowledge and expertise in climate-health research with these two agencies that support countries in spearheading the control of these major diseases in less developed countries," Connor said.
The center will facilitate application of seasonal climate forecasts in regions facing high incidences of climate-related diseases such as malaria, dengue and cholera. The center also will work with local agencies and other groups to help implement effective prevention and control measures in epidemic-prone regions. In September 2004, WHO and the Southern Africa Development Community Drought Monitoring Centre held the first Southern African Regional Epidemic Outlook Forum review seasonal climate forecasts and the implications for the next malaria season as part of developing a Malaria Early Warning System. Early next year, the center will begin to explore new projects on malaria and dengue in Colombia and cholera in Asia and Africa.