(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2010) Every day, children still die of malaria, a devastating disease that is both preventable and curable. In 2009, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a renewed international effort to combat malaria with an incremental reduction of the reliance on the synthetic pesticide DDT. However, efforts to invest in real solutions are often derailed by those promoting DDT as a “silver bullet” for malaria prevention.
Tell President Obama that the President’s Malaria Initiative must invest in safe solutions to malaria, not increase reliance on DDT. Sign by April 22nd and you will be included in the petition to mark World Malaria Day. Sign the petition here.
DDT, or dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane, while highly persistent in the environment, was initially found to be effective against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, such as malaria. However, insect resistance to the chemical has been documented since 1946. DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972 after it was linked to the decline of the bald eagle and other raptors, and it continues to be linked to health problems. A 2007 study finds that women who were exposed to DDT before the age of 14 are five times more likely to develop breast cancer later in life.
The benefits of the use of DDT for mosquito control are still debated, especially in developing nations that are plagued with high infection rates of malaria. Beyond Pesticides believes advocating a reliance on pesticides, especially DDT, as a silver bullet solution for malaria protection is extremely dangerous. When the underlying causes of pest problems are not adequately addressed, then a sustained dependence on toxic pesticides like DDT causes greater long-term problems than those that are being addressed in the short-term.
Beyond Pesticides advocate the fighting of malaria without poisoning future generations of children in malaria hot spots. “We should be advocating for a just world where we no longer treat poverty and development with poisonous band-aids, but join together to address the root causes of insect-borne disease, because the chemical-dependent alternatives are ultimately deadly for everyone,” says Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. See previous Daily News Blog.
Dear President Obama,
To mark World Malaria Day this year, we urge you to direct the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) to invest in the safest and most effective solutions to this devastating disease.
Malaria is both preventable and curable, and the global community must build on the success of those countries that have successfully controlled it. From Mexico to Vietnam to Kenya, the most successful programs are those that rely on community participation and full commitment of the national government to combat the disease. Improved health care infrastructure along with environmental management, widespread use of bednets and other community-specific solutions are key to success.
While we congratulate the PMI on its increased commitment to battle malaria in recent years, we are very concerned that the program has shifted its focus from these proven solutions to increased reliance on Indoor Residual Spraying with long-lasting chemicals, including DDT. From 2008 to 2010, PMI’s budget for IRS in Africa more than doubled, while the budget for bednets grew much less.
Public health officials from around the world have expressed concerns about the harm to human health of the use of DDT for malaria control – see the attached “Pine River Statement.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has committed to helping countries shift away from reliance on DDT, as agreed under the global Stockholm Convention.
Please support WHO’s efforts, and direct the President’s Malaria Initiative to bring its spending in line with the malaria control goals of the global community. Families and communities in Africa and around the world deserve the best solutions to malaria. Thank you.