DDT re-emphasized in malaria fight
Insecticide barred in US is embraced in African nations
By Scott Calvert, Baltimore Sun | August 30, 2006
MAPHUNGWANE, Swaziland -- Men in blue coveralls and white surgical masks began their annual trek into the countryside here last week. Methodically, they sprayed one home after another with a chemical most Americans probably thought long ago disappeared from use: DDT.
As villagers looked on, the workers used hand pumps to douse inside and outside walls with a fine mist. It is a yearly effort to repel and kill mosquitoes that carry malaria -- a disease that kills more than 1 million people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.
This small kingdom near South Africa is one of just a handful of countries still using the notorious pesticide, banned in the United States in 1972 because of its toxic effect on wildlife.
But now DDT is poised for a big expansion in the developing world.
The influential World Health Organization plans to promote DDT as an inexpensive and effective tool against malaria. And the US 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.
As I previouly posted, most of the evidence against DDT is junk science. The ban against DDT has probably cost 70 million lives in Africa.Now even the WHO and many other organizations have recognized that DDT is vital to the fight against malaria. This is apparently driving "environmentalists" crazy. Apparently saving millions of African lives is not their priority.
Paul Hermann Müller received the 1948 Nobel Prize "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods". This Swiss chemist discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichlorethane) in 1939 while working at the firm J. R. Geigy in Basel, Switzerland. Products containing DDT were marketed in 1942. This synthetic insecticide proved invaluable in fighting epidemic typhus (a disease transmitted by lice) during World War II. DDT's greatest public health use was probably in controlling malaria, thanks to its combined advantages of insecticidal properties, lack of acute toxicity to humans, and long duration of action. In malaria-endemic areas, spraying DDT twice a year on the inside walls of houses could prevent mosquitoes from transmitting malaria. This strategy, "indoor residual insecticide spraying", contributed to the eradication of malaria from many countries (including the United States) during the 1950s – 1970s.