January 9, 2006


Fighting Malaria--the Right Way (Roger Bate, January 9, 2006, The Examiner)

The fight against malaria has scored a major victory. The U.S. Agency for International Development has elected to use nearly half of its budget to buy proven interventions against the disease, which affects 500 million people and kills more than a million children around the world each year. USAID has promised $15 million expressly for insecticides, recognizing their unique effectiveness in reducing the burden of malaria. The agency has opted to streamline more funding to fewer countries in order to improve accountability and focus on results. [...]

Holding USAID to account has proven difficult because malaria primarily affects African children and public interest in the U.S. is limited. It has taken much pressure from malaria experts to ensure the policy shift. There is still room for improvement since its unclear how transparent the new effort will be, but hope is running high within the community. The "Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now!" coalition, which has presented USAID with a declaration calling for two thirds of the agency's budget to be used to buy life-saving commodities (namely the historically maligned but singularly effective insecticide DDT) has played a part in the recent shift. Signatories to the declaration include Nobel Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Norman Borlaug, as well as doctors, lawyers, public health experts, business professionals and civil society group leaders from diverse backgrounds.

The "Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now!" coalition has welcomed the announcement by USAID but believes that the agency must go further in fighting the disease. There is no guarantee that the money USAID has committed toward indoor residual spraying will be used to buy DDT. This chemical is the cheapest and most effective insecticide available for IRS. It brought malaria rates down by 75 percent in both Zambia and South Africa. A spokesman said USAID has previously followed environmentalists' ideology in avoiding the chemical, pointing to exaggerated and often unfounded accounts of its harmful effect on humans. Yet the science remains on the side of using DDT.

George W. Bush is the best president Africa has ever had.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 9, 2006 6:02 PM

It's about time!

Posted by: erp at January 9, 2006 6:09 PM

The DDT debate is something of a political fraud.

First of all, there are existing public health exemptions to national and international DDT bans, especially in those countries where malaria is endemic.

The primary reason for banning DDT for outdoor mosquito control is not its environmental effects, but the simple fact that mosquito populations rapidly develop resistance to it. Overuse of DDT in the 1950s and early 1960s produced highly resistant mosquito populations in many areas, such that even today DDT is not the insecticide of choice. The primary use of DDT is as an indoor insecticide, to repel mosquitos from human habitations.

It is at best a crass oversimplification, and at worst political malfeasance, to claim that the DDT ban is responsible for any number of deaths from malaria.

Posted by: M. Bulger at January 10, 2006 11:44 AM


The debate is why America doesn't fund DDT use in Africa where it would save millions of lives and the answer is leftwing hysteria. Period.

Posted by: oj at January 10, 2006 11:48 AM

No. The real question is why so many on the right are pushing so hard to fund an insecticide that will _not_ save millions of lives, when there are alternative insecticides that will. Rightwing hysteria, maybe?

Posted by: M. Bulger at January 10, 2006 12:05 PM

And we must protect our wetlands ... at all costs.

Posted by: Genecis at January 10, 2006 12:44 PM