DDT RE-EMPHASIZED IN MALARIA FIGHT

August 30, 2006

In parts of Africa ravaged by malaria, workers are spraying one home after another with a chemical most Americans probably thought was long banished from use: DDT.  However, the pesticide is now poised for a big expansion in the developing world, says the Boston Globe.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to promote DDT as an inexpensive and effective tool against malaria.
  • The U.S. government has boosted its budget twenty-fold for malarial insecticide spraying in Africa, to $20 million next year.

The new push for household spraying reflects a growing belief in some quarters that significant progress on malaria will require a third major front, alongside insecticide-treated bed nets and novel anti-malarial drugs, says the Globe.

  • Advocates of household spraying say the comparatively minute amounts used in homes pose no known dangers. 
  • Any potential risk, they say, is far outweighed by DDT's potency against malaria, as was seen in the late 1940s and '50s when it helped eradicate the disease in the United States and other industrialized nations.

WHO officials maintain that they are not minimizing the role of insecticide-treated nets or anti-malarial drugs.  Instead, they are just restoring proper emphasis on spraying -- a move some observers see as long overdue. 

Source: Scott Calvert, "DDT re-emphasized in malaria fight," Boston Globe, August 30, 2006

For text (subscription required): 

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/08/30/ddt_re_emphasized_in_malaria_fight/

 

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