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3/7/2006 12:47:31 AM

Updated 02/24/06
 


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A Quarter Billion Dollars for Malaria, But No Time for Prevention
ABC looks at deaths, ignores much-maligned DDT that has saved millions of lives.

By R. Warren Anderson
Free Market Project
Nov. 1, 2005

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     In its October 31 broadcast, ABC targeted deaths caused by malaria but bypassed a tool that has already prevented more than 500 million additional deaths.

     The networks World News Tonight devoted a segment to the horrors of malaria in Africa. Reporter Ned Potter began the piece stating mosquitoes kill 2,000 African children every day. Dr. Patrick Kachur, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated in rural Africa, one out of every five children born doesn't survive until his fifth birthday. The story emphasized the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is donating more than a quarter billion dollars to help fight malaria and thats on top of the $185 million already it already gave to fight African disease.

     Instead of vilifying businesses, ABC looked at the positive side of corporate profits. Potter called tropical disease specialists for comments on malaria and found that most of them get money from the Gates Foundation. Despite the criticisms of low U.S. donations to poorer countries, only the World Health Organization gives more than the Gates Foundation.

     Missing from the story was that there already is a way to end most of the deaths from malaria DDT. It has been vilified, even before the book Silent Spring which helped the banning of DDT. According to an April 11, 2004 New York Times piece by Tina Rosenberg DDT killed bald eagles because of its persistence in the environment. Silent Spring is now killing African children because of its persistence in the public mind. DDTs success was unmatched by any other method to end malaria.

     The ABC segment ended on a deadly note. Potter said There is hope of a malaria vaccine in the next five years. Meanwhile, in the half-hour this program is on the air, they say 40 more children will die.

     Those children and millions like them could be saved by use of DDT to combat the mosquitoes that carry the disease. Here are a few important statistics about DDT:

     In the 1950s, roughly 800,000 people were dying from malaria in India. After DDT, the number approached zero.
     Sri Lanka in 1948 had approximately 2.8 million cases of malaria and 7,300 deaths. With DDT, malaria cases fell to 17 and no deaths by 1963.
     In the South African towns of Ndumo and Mosvold, more than 9,000 people were treated for malaria in March of 2000. After DDT was used, 12 were treated for malaria between the two towns in March of 2003.
     The National Academy of Sciences in 1970 stated To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. In little more than two decades DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that would otherwise have been inevitable.

     After 50 years of use, no harmful side effects in humans have been found when used in household dosages. The problems associated with DDT came from dumping it from planes in large quantities. Donald Roberts, a professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, illustrated the contrast between the way DDT was used in America and the way it is used to combat malaria today. The quantities used for house spraying are so small that Guyana, to take one example, could protect every single citizen of its malarious zones with the same amount of DDT once used to spray 1,000 acres of cotton.

     Renato Gusm-o, former head of the anti-malaria programs of the Pan American Health Organization said I cannot envision the possibility of rolling back malaria without the power of DDT.... In tropical Africa, if you don't use DDT, forget it.

     Instead of waiting five years for a possible vaccine, malaria can be greatly reduced now and potentially save upwards of five million people from dying from a preventable disease.

For additional information, go to:

100 things you should know about DDT

DDT: A Case Study in Scientific Fraud

South Africa's War against Malaria: Lessons for the Developing World

 


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