Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Use of DDT endorsed to fight malaria

In recent years, there has been a debate raging about the use of the insecticide DDT against mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite.

The PBS Newshour program describes the quandry this way:

DDT causes genetic problems in animals and has been linked to cancer in humans.

However, it is one of the most effective chemicals when it comes to killing the Anopheles mosquito, which carries the deadly malaria parasite.

Malaria kills more than one million people each year and 90 percent of those deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.


However, use of DDT to kill the anopheles mosquito was opposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for over three decades. But the WHO has endorsed a plan that called for tightly controlled spraying of the insecticide, only on walls and roofs of houses (as opposed to mass spraying outside).

The technique has also been cautiously endorsed by environmental groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club.

Indoor spraying can reduce malaria transmission by up to 90 percent, the WHO claims.

As I wrote earlier, malaria kills a million people a year and sickens as many as half a billion.

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