Published: 06/28/2018

A strategic communications project from the Action Lab for Planetary Health (ALPHA).

Small-scale gold mining in remote areas of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest results in mosquito breeding grounds, which in turn lead to surges in malaria transmission. On average, an additional kilogram of gold production in the Brazilian Amazon results in an additional 59 cases of P. vivax malaria.

Small-scale gold mining has become a common means of income for low-income laborers in and around the Amazon. These small mining operations carve out new forest-edge environments in what was previously dense forest. When combined with populations of migrant miners in unsafe conditions, these environmental changes promote malaria outbreaks that ripple far beyond miner encampments. In order to reach the goal of eliminating malaria in Brazil by 2030, persistent malaria transmission within gold mines and as a result of newly deforested areas urgently needs to be addressed.

Stanford’s Mordecai Lab conducts research on complex ecological and health connections, including linking malaria transmission to mining and other land use changes in Brazil. Its goals are to disseminate this evidence to key decision-making bodies who can influence policy and on-the-ground practice – with an eye on improving health outcomes, mitigating deforestation, and supporting the wellbeing of local communities. 

ALPHA is working with the researchers to produce a research brief and other communications to spread their findings to a broad audience of policymakers, community leaders, and the general public. The team is also exploring other opportunities to bring this research to the next level of impact – including through collaborations with local on-the-ground organizations that can help think through questions related to healthcare access, alternative livelihoods, and possible economic interventions.

Research Brief: Gold Mining in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest is a Major Contributor to Malaria Outbreaks

This research brief outlines the connection between deforestation due to gold mining in Brazil and a higher risk for malaria. Please note that this research is pending publication and that the brief here is still in draft form.

Photo by Souro Souvik on