It’s that time of year again. Twice a year the global community — and the media — focus in on the perpetually devastating disease of malaria. World Malaria Day, marked in April, is one such time, and the other is this month, on Malaria Day in the Americas. Unfortunately, these events also provide an opportunity for the pro-DDT lobby to re-circulate disingenuous talking points about DDT, environmentalists and malaria. This handful of advocates work tirelessly to create a debate where there is none.
Using the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and various online fora, these groups attack PAN specifically and environmentalists at large, attempting to create divisions between public health advocates and environmental groups with the DDT "debate." Again and again, the DDT promoters deny the scientific evidence of human health harms associated with DDT, and present a false choice between spraying DDT and letting malaria go unchecked.
In reality, DDT is one of 12 insecticides approved for anti-malarial work by the World Health Organization, and insecticide spraying is just one of numerous interventions that can be deployed to fight the disease. Under the Stockholm Convention, DDT is slated for global phaseout because of its toxicity and persistence, and resources have been mobilized to help countries transition away from reliance on the dangerous chemical. This approach has been blessed by 169 governments around the world, and is supported by PAN International and it's partners.
The notion that DDT is the developing world's best hope for controlling malaria is simply not true. Successful approaches to malaria are an array of "micro-solutions," mostly community-based and comprehensive, and very few relying on DDT.
For more on the history, context and science surrounding DDT, see: The DDT Story.