by Nikhila Yaladanda, Rajasekhar Mopuri, Hariprasad Vavilala, Kantha Rao Bhimala, Krushna Chandra Gouda, Madhusudhan Rao Kadiri, Suryanarayana Murty Upadhyayula & Srinivasa Rao Mutheneni
The northeast region of India is highlighted as the most vulnerable region for malaria. This study attempts to explore the epidemiological profile and quantify the climate-induced influence on malaria cases in the context of tropical states, taking Meghalaya and Tripura as study areas. Monthly malaria cases and meteorological data from 2011 to 2018 and 2013 to 2019 were collected from the states of Meghalaya and Tripura, respectively. The nonlinear associations between individual and synergistic effect of meteorological factors and malaria cases were assessed, and climate-based malaria prediction models were developed using the generalized additive model (GAM) with Gaussian distribution. During the study period, a total of 216,943 and 125,926 cases were recorded in Meghalaya and Tripura, respectively, and majority of the cases occurred due to the infection of Plasmodium falciparum in both the states. The temperature and relative humidity in Meghalaya and temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, and soil moisture in Tripura showed a significant nonlinear effect on malaria; moreover, the synergistic effects of temperature and relative humidity (SI=2.37, RERI=0.58, AP=0.29) and temperature and rainfall (SI=6.09, RERI=2.25, AP=0.61) were found to be the key determinants of malaria transmission in Meghalaya and Tripura, respectively. The developed climate-based malaria prediction models are able to predict the malaria cases accurately in both Meghalaya (RMSE: 0.0889; R2: 0.944) and Tripura (RMSE: 0.0451; R2: 0.884). The study found that not only the individual climatic factors can significantly increase the risk of malaria transmission but also the synergistic effects of climatic factors can drive the malaria transmission multifold. This reminds the policymakers to pay attention to the control of malaria in situations with high temperature and relative humidity and high temperature and rainfall in Meghalaya and Tripura, respectively.