NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

GIVE US DDT

June 12, 2007

G-8 leaders recently committed new resources to the fight against malaria and promised to use every available tool.  Now they must honor this promise by supporting African independence in the realm of disease control, including the use of DDT, says Sam Zaramba, director general of health services for the Republic of Uganda.

Today, every single Ugandan still remains at risk.  Over 10 million Ugandans are infected each year and up to 100,000 mothers and children die from the disease.  Yet there is some hope, says Zaramba:

  • In 2006, Uganda worked with President George Bush's Malaria Initiative to train 350 spray operators, supervisors and health officials.
  • In August 2006 and again in February 2007, some 100,000 households were covered in the southern Kabale district with the insecticide Icon.
  • As a result, the prevalence of the malaria parasite dropped; today, just 3 percent of the local population carries the disease, down from 30 percent.

But the situation is not perfect, says Zaramba.  DDT lasts longer, costs less and is more effective against malaria-carrying mosquitoes than Icon.  In addition, after decades of exhaustive scientific review, DDT has been shown to not only be safe for humans and the environment, but also the single most effective anti-malarial agent ever invented.

Nevertheless, western environmentalists continue to undermine efforts and discourage G-8 governments from supporting its use, says Zaramba.  It is time environmental leaders join the 21st century, acknowledge the mistakes made by past environmentalists, and balance the hypothetical risks of DDT with the real and devastating consequences of malaria.

Source: Sam Zaramba, "Give Us DDT," Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2007.

 

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