News / Africa

African Countries Debate Using DDT in Anti-Malaria Efforts

Some propose using pesticide in tightly controlled conditions

African children watch a play on malaria prevention at the Mbosse health clinic.
African children watch a play on malaria prevention at the Mbosse health clinic.

The chemical pesticide DDT has been banned by most countries for use in agriculture, but some continue to use it indoors to kill insects that carry malaria.

In Zambia, it’s an important part of the government’s malaria control program, and the controlled use of DDT spray has led to a reduction in malaria cases over the years.

Other African countries are facing a rise in the number of cases and several African governments are considering the carefully monitored use of DDT as part of their strategy against the disease.

In Malawi, for example, the Department of Health may undertake a DDT spray program in malaria prone-areas.

There is no doubt that DDT is very effective in killing mosquitoes.  The problem lies in what other effects DDT may have on human health, wildlife, environment, horticulture and crops.
Malawi’s secretary of health, Chris Kang’ombe, was part of a delegation that visited Zambia to learn how the use of DDT has helped reduce malaria there.

Kang’ombe is convinced that DDT can help reduce the spread of malaria in Africa -- if handled under controlled conditions by trained personnel and monitored by government agencies.

He says, “DDT is used for indoor spraying.  It is used to only spray within, inside the house, dwelling houses.  What we have learnt (from Zambia) and we know from our experience here (in Malawi), the other chemicals [are active for] up to about two or three months, whereas with DDT you are talking of six months plus. So in terms of “residue effect,” it (DDT) is better, and also eventually the cost of indoor spraying…will be much cheaper, more cost effective than using other chemicals. “

While authorities in Malawi are still considering using DDT in malaria control, a thorny issue has arisen.

The Tobacco Control Commission is against the idea of using the pesticide.  Tobacco is the mainstay of Malawi’s economy, and there’s fear that Western consumers will not buy it if there are any traces of DDT on the crops.  So the commission will likely require careful monitoring if Malawi is to start using DDT in malaria control.

Similar views are shared by Uganda’s Network on Toxic Free Malaria Control.  The network is against the use of DDT as a malaria control strategy.

“We have no law specifically for DDT,” says Network Secretary General Ellady Muyambi  . “ We have no trained manpower.  We do not have equipment in terms of transportation facilities, in terms of storage facilities, in terms of disposal facilities, in terms of laboratories for chromatography.   We do not have the capacity.  We are still relaying on donor funding and we are saying why can’t our country use its own resources to deal with its own problems, especially these ones like malaria.,” says Muyambi.

Also involved in the DDT debate is Kenya, another country debating whether to use the pesticide.

Shrikant  Bhatt professor of medicine at the University of Nairobi in Kenya explains why the controlled use of DDT should be reintroduced. “We are almost getting defeated by the pandemic that is occurring due to malaria.  [Anti-malarial] drugs are gaining resistance [to the parasite].  You know we have very few drugs which we can use as effective means of controlling malaria.  So, I think we do not have any option but to reintroduce DDT in a limited way, [like] spraying DDT indoors or using it in endemic areas we should be able to contain the malaria pandemic,” he explains.

The International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), also based in Kenya, is taking different approach.

John Githure a researcher at the centre says  “ICIPE is largely concentrating on how we can come up with innovative ways or even using available products to kill the mosquitoes at larval stage. “

One such product uses soil-dwelling bacteria called bacillus thuringiensis, or BTi.
Githure says ,”we are trying to introduce that in Africa and ICIPE have of course gone ahead to construct a demonstration factory that will be able to at least make the product BTi available, affordable and accessible to the community to use for mosquito control.”

Meanwhile, the government and various organizations including Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation are encouraging free distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and sleeping under bed-nets as short term measure for malaria control.

For VOA Africa...I am Sanday Chongo Kabange in Lusaka, Zambia.


You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid