UNEP To Call for Increased Malaria Vaccine Funding in Effort To Phase Out DDT, Other Chemicals
The United Nations Environment Programme this week is expected to call for increased funding for malaria vaccine development to aid as part of efforts to phase out some governments' use of the pesticide DDT to control the disease, the Financial Times reports. UNEP plans to make the call as governmental officials are meeting this week in Punta del Este, Uruguay, to review the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants for the first time since the treaty came into effect last year. DDT -- one of 12 "dangerous" chemicals that could be eliminated under the treaty -- is considered one of the most effective methods of controlling the spread of malaria, and countries where the disease is endemic currently can use the pesticide until a safe and affordable alternative is found, according to the treaty, the Times reports. Therefore, some countries are seeking exemptions to the treaty that will allow them to continue using DDT as part of their malaria control programs. However, DDT and the other chemicals persist in the environment for long periods and can accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals and humans, sometimes damaging the nervous and immune systems or leading to cancer or reproductive health diseases, the Times reports. "The Stockholm Convention will save lives and protect the natural environment, particularly in the poorest communities and countries," UNEP Executive Director Klaus Topfer said, adding, "Eliminating persistent organic pollutants, however, will cost billions of dollars and require countries to adopt new methods and technologies to replace these toxic substances" (Harvey, Financial Times, 5/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.