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  • Going Green—but at Whose Expense?

    Environmentalists celebrated World Malaria Day last week (and Earth Day the week prior). Meanwhile, thousands of African children died of malaria.

    While these activists may make themselves feel like they’re saving the world, they are ignoring the best possible solution to Africa’s malaria problem: the use of DDT to wipe out the Anopheles mosquito.

    Even though the World Health Organization resumed promotion of DDT in September 2006—realizing it had the best track record for saving the lives of 500 million African children—environmentalists are still emphasizing the use of bed nets instead. DDT treatments almost completely eradicated the disease in Europe and North America 50 years ago, but today an African child dies every 45 seconds of malaria.

    Providing sub-Saharan Africans with bed nets has had far from acceptable success in delivering the amount of protection needed from mosquitoes. The World Bank touts the fact that 50 percent of children in Zambia are now sleeping under nets as a good thing, but what about the other half who are left defenseless against a killer disease? The Democratic Republic of the Congo had only 38 percent of children under nets in 2010.

    One would question why, in the 21st century, people should have to live inside of a net in order to be safe from malaria. The world has a better solution, and it’s not the quarantine of African infants. Dr. John Rwakimari, as head of Uganda’s national malaria program, described DDT, which is nontoxic to humans, as “the answer to our problems.”

    World Malaria Day 2011 had the theme of “Achieving Progress and Impact” and aims to have zero malaria deaths by 2015. If the world really wants to make progress and increase the number of lives saved from malaria, it needs to embrace for Africans the best possible technologies available today, and that means DDT.

    Jane Abel currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. Click here for more information on interning at Heritage.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Going Green—but at Whose Expense?

    1. joecool says:

      Bed nets! Even Obama knows its best to bring a gun to a knife fight, as he recently told us. Trying to fight malaria with bed nets is like going into a knife fight with a butter knife!!

    2. lawrence Wade says:

      how dangerous is DDT to the bird populations?

    3. Redfray, Pea Ridge, says:

      It's terrible to know our EPA environmentalists are killing people, but thats what they are doing. Do they care about the suffering of humans over animals or the life of an insect, over human babies, I think not. In fact, new ways of controlling mosquitoes have been introduced, but can't get pass the poor management of EPA laws. One child every 45 SECONDS!!!!!!

    4. C.Adli,NV says:

      When I was very young in the 30's in Turkey We slept tn bed nets.There were scores of people young and old awaiting in government controlled clinics to pick up Quinine tablets to treat the Malaria Most of them had large Spleens and emeciated could hardly walk.At the time of Second World War and after The DDT became available.Number of people awating for Quinine reduced to very few.Very same thing will happen in Africa with return of DDT without ristriction.In my opinion;Enviormentalists;are in this instance;Eugenicists.

    5. Stirling, Pennsylvan says:

      How about a theory of EPA "Genocide" wraped in a "Caring for the enviroment, green movement" candy shell. Since when do we value animals over the welfare of our fellow human beings??

    6. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      I remember it was all about DDT making the egg shells of certain birds too thin! We wiped out a mass murdering mosquito and yet we managed to keep the Condor and Eagles going. It is an Environmental Fact that DDT saved human lives in the millions. So if it isn't about birds, really, it must be about Population Control. Recall, Joe Stalin actually wanted the Russian Peasants dead because they were hopelessly primative! They would never adapt to Communism! So Uncle Joe took their Seed and starved them by the millions! I cannot see very much difference in the mass murder of African children by withholding DDT.

      I do dearly wish the Republicans in the House would Investigate, Defund and Abolish the EPA! Easy in my extreme world, to see EPA is involved in Crimes Against Humanity! This is one, the death of the San Juaqin Valley is another. The Ethanol Subsidies and Quantitative Easing have put Food Prices so high that Africans will starve! I have come to see all the Green Agenda as murderous in fact! We will wish we had more Carbon Dioxide in the air when the Ice Age finally hits! Uncover one lie it leads to another! And another, and another! Turns out the whole Global Warming scam has been used to destroy (Attempt) American Energy, and the American Economy.

      A robust Economy saves lives! Doesn't it? Poverty doesn't save lives, rather it shortens and nullifies people's lives. Green looks pretty black to me! Carbon Dioxide is less harmful than DDT, in fact, Congress told the EPA NOT to regulate Carbon! They did it anyway. Bad enough Obama's Administration does whatever they want, Constitutional or not, but consider the damages to the Human Environment! I think destroying America is a Crime Against Humanity too! How High does a High Crime have to be before the House Investigators stop EPA?

    7. Mike, Elk Grove CA says:

      So how are the children protected from mosquitoes when they're not in their tented beds?

    8. Pingback: Going Green-But at Whose Expense? | Tennesseans Watching Federal & State Government

    9. Cory Albrecht says:

      Quoting a response to your blog post from http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/herita

      DDT is toxic to humans — just not greatly and acutely so. Ms. Abel should be aware of recent studies that indicate even limited, indoor use of DDT in the end produces a death toll similar to malaria. But we digress on just one of the errors assumed by Ms. Abel.

      If DDT could wipe out malaria-carrying mosquitoes, WHO would not have slowed or stopped its use in 1965, years before anyone thought about banning the stuff. By 1965 it was clear that overuse of DDT in agriculture had bred mosquitoes that are resistant and even immune to DDT. Jonathan Weiner noted in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Beak of the Finch, that today every mosquito on Earth carries at least a few copies of the alleles that allow mosquitoes to digest DDT as if it were a nutrient.

      DDT cannot be a panacea for malaria.

      Please do not forget that malaria is a parasite disease, and that mosquitoes are only the carriers of it. To truly eradicate malaria, we need to cure the humans — and if we do that, the mosquitoes do not matter. With no infected humans, mosquitoes have no well of disease to draw from. Without infected humans, mosquitoes cannot spread malaria.

      Only 38 percent of children in Congo sleep under bednets? I’ll wager that’s twice the percentage of kids that were ever protected from malaria in Congo by DDT. In actual tests in Africa over the past decade, bednets have proven to reduce malaria by 50 to 85 percent; DDT, on the other hand, reduces malaria only 25 to 50 percent under the best conditions. If we have to go with one and not the other, bednets would be the better choice. Nets are much, much cheaper than DDT, too. DDT applications must be repeated every 6 months, at a cost of about $12 per application per house. Nets cost about $10, and they last five years. Nets protect kids for $2 a year, better than DDT; DDT protects kids for $24 a year (that’s 12 times the cost), but not as effectively as nets.

      Also, it’s important to remember that DDT has never been banned in Africa. DDT non-use is much more a result of the ineffectiveness of DDT in many applications — why should we expect Africans to throw away hard-earned money on a pesticide that doesn’t work?

      Finally, it’s also good to understand that, largely without DDT, malaria deaths are, today, at the lowest point in human history. Fewer than 900,000 people a year die from malaria today. That’s 25% of the death toll in 1960, when DDT use was at its peak.

      Ms. Abel assumes that all Africans are too stupid to use DDT, though it might save their children. He states no reason for this assumption, but we should question it. If Africans do not use DDT, it may well be because the local populations of mosquitoes are not susceptible; or it could be because other solutions, like bednets, are more effective, and cheaper.

      Ms. Abel has not made a case that DDT is the best solution to use against malaria. DDT cannot improve a nation’s medical care delivery systems, to quickly diagnose and appropriately treat malaria in humans. DDT cannot make mosquitoes extinct, we know from 66 year of DDT use that mosquitoes always come roaring back. DDT cannot prevent mosquitoes from spreading malaria as effectively as bednets.

      Maybe, just maybe, as evidenced by the dramatic reductions in malaria deaths, we might assume that modern Africans and health care workers know what they’re doing fighting malaria — and they do not need, want, or call for, a lot more DDT than is currently in use.

    10. Ed Darrell says:

      How are the children protected from mosquitoes when they are not in their DDT-treated homes?

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