DDT controversy — Opinion

I have never imaged people are still debating about DDT, something disappeared for about 20 years as I remember. Well, I don’t know malaria is still killing thousands of people in poor countries, either.

DDT is the first modern pesticide and was used with great effect to combat mosquitoes spreading malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne human diseases after the discovery in early World War II. With the help of DDT, US and Europe eradicted malaria by 1960. In 1962, American biologist and environmentalist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, which questioned DDT for the environmental impacts and human health concerns. US banned DDT usage in 1972 after the large public outcry stirred by the book. Many countries around the world followed the ban.

DDT is still the single most effective pesticide to fight malaria, the mosquito-borne disease. And it’s one of the cheapest, too. In 1960s, Uganda tested DDT in the Kanungu district and reduced malaria by 98%. But the poor country lacked the resources and public health infrastructure to sustain the program. Now, with the help from foreign organizations, Uganda resumed the DDT spraying operation in households and reduced the malaria parasite dropped from 30% to 3% of local populations in the test regions.

The author is complaining that international environmentalists are undermining Uganda’s anti-malaria effect by discouraging G-8 leaders from supporting DDT usage.

Update: According to National Geographic Magazine, malaria is the leading disease killing human being, more than HIV-related disease and cancer. In Africa, 3000 people die everyday from malaria, primarily pregnant mothers and children under five.

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