Tags: malaria

Malaria Making a Comeback

Wednesday, 05 Dec 2007 09:56 AM

By Ralph Hostetter

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The voice override of the public service announcement implies mosquito netting should be placed over all of Africa.

The announcement is addressing the principal means for the prevention of malaria on the continent most affected with the disease.

National Geographic, July 2007 issue, carries an extensive article on malaria, "endemic to 106 nations threatening half of the world's population . . . will strike up to half a billion people . . . at least a million will die, most of them under the age of 5 . . . more than twice the annual toll a generation ago."

The most certain cure for malaria is the death of the female Anopheles mosquito. The most certain death for the mosquito was a compound called dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), discovered by a Swiss chemist Paul Mueller in the early 1940s. It turned out to be a miracle insecticide "like nothing in the history of insect control."

DDT worked miracles for the United States. During the 1930s, America suffered millions of cases of malaria prior to an extensive anti-malaria campaign in the 1940s when three million acres of wetlands were drained (forbidden today) and hundreds of thousands of homes were sprayed with DDT (forbidden today).

"By 1950, transmission of malaria was halted in the United States.

"In Sri Lanka, there were 2.8 million cases of malaria in 1946, and a total of 17 in 1963. In India, malaria deaths plummeted from 800,000 a year to scarcely any."

DDT has never been proved to be toxic to human beings. For years DDT had been sprayed in small amounts in homes, factories and buses of a number of countries around the world with no toxic effect on the population. This was the very method that was used in the United States during the 1940s when the spread of malaria was stopped.

Environmental activists, no doubt seeing the amazing results of the use of the "miracle" insecticide, began clamoring for government regulation of DDT.

The New York Times in 1957 reported on the unsuccessful efforts to regulate DDT. This article came to the attention of popular naturalist author Rachel Carson, who wrote the book "Silent Spring." Her book charged that DDT harmed peregrine falcons, sea lions, and salmon populations. It was so damaging to the image of DDT that the insecticide was subsequently banned.

Robert Gwadz of the National Institute of Health says, "the ban on DDT may have killed 20 million children."

Regardless of the fact that saner minds are in control of this new war against malaria, the product DDT is nearly impossible to acquire. When DDT was banned, the factories were closed and the market ceased to exist. New factories will have to be built and marketing infrastructure re-established.

Malarial deaths continue to increase around the world, threatening more than half the world's population, particularly in Africa. Ninety percent of all malaria deaths in the world occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. About 20 percent of all babies born in Zambia do not live to their 5th birthday.

Today, malaria seems to have captured the full attention of major environmental, health and big time donors.

The World Health Organization has committed itself to the eradication of malaria and has made the mission its chief priority. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, identifying malaria as "the worst thing on earth," has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the cause. The United States, through the George W. Bush administration, is pledging 1.2 billion dollars. Total funds for malaria's elimination have doubled since 2003.

Even one of the leading environmental groups, Sierra Club, offers no opposition to the moderate use of DDT.

The Zambian government is manufacturing and distributing massive amounts of bed netting impregnated with insecticide. Although netting serves a useful, temporary purpose, it prolongs the problem. The Zambian army distributes the netting around the country. One problem has arisen: local fishermen are finding another use and stealing the material to use for fish nets.

Malaria continues to ravage many areas of the world today, causing deaths of hundreds of thousands annually, especially young children.

The cure has been available, and when DDT was properly used in past years, malaria had been eradicated in many nations and several continents — and in particular in the United States.

The environmentalist mentality sets the stage for many unintended consequences and refuses to accept the responsibility for their acts.

The cause of millions of deaths that have occurred since the banning of DDT over 40 years ago can be laid directly on the doorstep of a handful of individuals in America who identify themselves as environmentalists. Their view of environmentalism does not require the intelligence to establish a rational view of an issue that has life and death consequences. Rather, as Paul Driessen, author of "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power. Black Death" said of Rachel Carson, their “shrill alarmism, extreme rhetoric, and junk science generate a culture of fear.”

But for the environmental extremists, the plague of malaria could have been eliminated worldwide as of today. Allowing the revival of a plague of epidemic proportions that could have been cured is evil.

The control of many vital issues facing the nation rests in the hands of like-minded extremists.

There is a simple solution to the problem. Lift the ban on DDT for Africa. Use some of the billions in aid now pouring into Africa for manufacturing, distributing, and application of DDT where needed.

DDT worked miracles for the rest of the world. Applied properly in Africa, DDT will finally eradicate malaria from the entire continent. Once this is accomplished the entire planet could well be free of malaria.

* * *

Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes e-mail comments at eralphhostetter@yahoo.com.

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