A preventable public health tragedy few seem interested in

While the world speculates about the prospect of an avian flu pandemic, in Africa someone– normally a child — dies every 30 seconds from malaria. Richard Tren and Philip Coticelli of the health advocacy group Africa Fighting Malaria, show how a combination of environmentalists, United Nations agencies, and big business interests has prevented the use of the chemical that helped eradicate malaria in the U.S. and Europe, and could do so in Africa — DDT. Tren and Coticelli argue that the adverse environmental effects of spraying DDT over crops have been exaggerated and, in any case, are irrelevant to its use in fighting malaria. Why? Because when used in malaria control DDT is sprayed in tiny quantities on the inside walls of houses. This usage produces no envirnomental degradation at all.

Tren and Coticelli end on an optimistic note. A “Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now!” declaration, which calls for (among other things) the use of insecticides for malaria control, has gained the support of scientists, public-health experts and human rigths advocates including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. If successful, the declaration could lead to the freeing of millions of Africans from a preventable disease that long ago was conquered in the U.S. and Europe.

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