Uganda Defies EU, Begins DDT Program to Fight Malaria

Uganda Defies EU, Begins DDT Program to Fight Malaria
May 1, 2006

The African nation of Uganda has announced it will defy European Union threats and begin indoor spraying of DDT to battle rampant malaria.

Malaria kills more people in Uganda each year than any other disease, including AIDS and tuberculosis, which typically receive more media attention. Malaria accounts for 40 percent of all illnesses and 21 percent of deaths in Uganda's hospitals. Every year the disease kills approximately 100,000 children under five years old in the country.

"We have to kill malaria using DDT, and the matter has been settled that DDT is not harmful to humans and if used for indoor-insecticide spraying," Uganda Health Minister Jim Muhwezi told the East African on April 4. "It's the most effective and cheapest way to fight malaria."

DDT Ban Causes 'Holocaust'

Worldwide, malaria infects more than 500 million people annually, and kills at least 1 million. Most of the victims--375 million--are women and children.

"That's more victims than there are people in the United States and Canada combined," said Roy Innis, national chairman of the U.S.-based Congress of Racial Equality.

"We [have] emphasized fears about speculative risks from trace amounts of insecticides and ignored the real, immediate, life-or-death risks that those insecticides could prevent," said Innis. "The result has been another holocaust of African mothers, fathers, and children every few years, a death toll since the 1972 DDT ban that surpasses World War II's--over 50 million people. It is a travesty worse than colonialism ever was, a human rights violation of monstrous proportions."

"The result of the DDT ban has been an unspeakable death toll," observed film producer and preventive medicine doctor D. Rutledge Taylor in the March 20 issue of American Daily. "It is about the greatest human death toll in the known history of man, far greater than the holocaust and all the wars combined. It is time that we as generations of humans wake up and do what is right for humanity."

EU Threatens Africans

European Union officials and nongovernmental organizations, who claim DDT spraying inside Ugandan huts may result in trace levels of the chemical being found on exported Ugandan crops, threatened to restrict the import of Ugandan crops in retaliation for the nation's use of DDT.

"If the strict controls that should be put in place when DDT is used are not fully adhered to, and there is a risk of contamination of the food chain, [it] would not automatically lead to a ban of food products, but it will mean that that particular consignment cannot be sent to Europe," said Tom Vens, head of the Economic, Trade, and Social sectors desk at the European Union delegation to Uganda, according to the April 4 East African report.

"No other insecticide, and no bed net at any price works as well as DDT," countered Innis.

No Threat to Crops

Today, DDT is used in carefully controlled campaigns that spray tiny amounts of the chemical on the inside walls of canvas, mud-and-thatch, or cinder-block dwellings. A single treatment lasts up to eight months (versus eight hours for bug repellants with DEET, the most common active ingredient in mosquito repellants currently legal worldwide), keeps 90 percent of mosquitoes from entering homes, irritates any that do come in so they don't bite, and kills many of those that land on the inside walls.

Used this way, virtually no DDT ever enters the surrounding environment, and results are astounding.

"Within two years of starting DDT programs, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar, and Swaziland slashed their malaria rates by 75 percent or more," Innis noted.

Ban Keeps Africans Poor

In addition to the direct annual death toll, malaria strangles African economies, preventing them from escaping near-universal poverty. According to a March 22 statement from the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Economically, malaria drains the wealth of nations and households.

"Recently the [World Health Organization] reported that malaria costs Africa $12 billion a year. In countries where this disease is endemic, it grinds down the per-capita economic growth rate by 1.3 percent yearly. Poor households can spend up to 34 percent of their total income fighting malaria," the statement continued.


Paul Driessen (pdriessen@eco-imperialism.com) is a senior fellow at the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power; Black Death.


For more information ...

More information on the impact of malaria on Uganda is available from the Web site of the country's ministry of health, at http://www.health.go.ug/malaria.htm.

Additional information is also available from the Web sites of the African American Environmentalist Association, http://www.aaenvironment.com/DDT.htm, and Africa Fighting Malaria, http://www.fightingmalaria.org/.