Study area and in situ data
West Africa is an important region for studying climate impacts on public health and animal health, for at least two reasons :
i) While inhabitants are poor in general, rural conditions render them extremely sensitive to environmental changes and associated risks including exposure to diseases and epidemics. In Niger malaria is the major of cause of mortality and morbidity. For Senegal, we can note that RVF has a deep impact in pastoral areas (Ferlo) due to enormous economic losses.
ii) As far as meningococcal meningitis is concerned, variability in the seasonality of the monsoon can lead in certain years to a human population becoming very susceptible to epidemics.
iii) In West Africa there is a delicate balance between climate and environmental variability, water resources, mosquito density, agricultural and pastoral outputs and the quality of life.
Each field study needs to have its strategy on the number of collection points, what is being collected, how often these data are being collected and the analyses that are being carried out. Researchers also need to give some reflection on to what extent the set up is a compromise and if any changes would be made in future campaigns. All field experiments are a compromise – that is expected – but some insight to how any compromises impacted on the study will help in the design of future studies. We must remember other regions in Africa are looking to set up their own regional AMMA type experiments and are already asking for knowledge transfer in terms of best practise to come out of AMMA. This is a milestone where we can do something for this cause.