U.N., WHO Plan To Eliminate Use of DDT for Malaria Control; Announce New Projects To Test DDT Alternatives
The UNEP and the WHO announced a plan that aims reduce the use of the pesticide DDT by 30% by 2014 and completely eliminate its use worldwide by around 2020, Reuters reports. DDT is outlawed as a crop pesticide, but is still used indoors to kill mosquitoes that carry malaria (Reuters, 5/6). The Global Environment Facility will contribute $40 million to fund new projects that will use DDT alternatives for malaria control in 40 countries in Africa, central Asia and the eastern Mediterranean.
"The new projects follow a successful five-year pilot programme using alternatives to DDT in Mexico and Central America," U.N. News Service reports (U.N. News Service, 5/6). Since 2003, the UNEP and the WHO have been overseeing projects in eight countries that previously made "extensive use of DDT," according to the Financial Times. Through the use of non-chemical malaria control methods such as the elimination of potential mosquito breeding sites, the use of mesh screens, mosquito-repellant trees and fish that eat mosquito larvae these countries have cut malaria cases by more than 60%, the Financial Times reports (Williams, Financial Times, 5/6). Environment News Service (ENS) published an article detailing the projects in Mexico and Central America. It also describes plans for the new five-year regional projects (ENS, 5/6).
"The new projects underline the determination of the international community to combat malaria while realizing a low, indeed zero DDT world," Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, said (Financial Times, 5/6). Under the Stockholm Convention, which banned certain pesticides, including DDT, "a specific and limited exemption was made for the use of DDT to control malaria, because it was recognized that in some situations adequate alternative control methods were not currently available," Xinhua writes (Ooko, Xinhua, 5/6).
Health experts have a "long-standing and growing concern over the use of DDT and evidence that in many countries there is increasing mosquito resistance to the pesticide," according to ENS (ENS, 5/6). Recently a panel of scientists published a consensus statement recommending that DDT in malaria-endemic areas in Africa and Asia be significantly reduced because of the possibility of serious health effects that might result from exposure (Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, 5/6). According to the Financial Times, a WHO study of the health effects of indoor spraying is due to be published later this year (Financial Times, 5/6).
"WHO faces a double challenge a commitment to the goal of drastically and sustainably reducing the burden of vector-borne diseases, in particular malaria, and at the same time a commitment to the goal of reducing reliance on DDT in disease vector control," Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, said in a statement (PTI/Hindu, 5/7).
Monique Barbut, CEO and chair of GEF, said, the "dividends" from investing in projects that aim to reduce the use of DDT "will mean a cleaner, safer and sustainable environment for future generations" (Xinhua, 5/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.