Wednesday, 30 March 2011

MALARIA: The argument for DDT

Donald Roberts : 17 Mar 2011

Cloaked in presumptions of an enlightened understanding of malaria, its history and evolution, Sonia Shah's "The Fever" presents a subtle array of denunciations and smear tactics against the tools, the methods, and even the motivations of key individuals who endeavored to control malaria, both past and present. Shah comes across as a journalist who is looking for fame. She describes herself as hating mosquitoes, but perhaps she hates people more.
"The Fever" is a book written to charm and soothe other people like herself, the armchair environmentalists who think people are the problem—and who want to eradicate DDT and other essential public health insecticides, not eradicate malaria.
In contrast to Shah, I am an entomologist who has worked for 45 years to combat malaria, and I state unequivocally, from my experience in the developing sector, that DDT is an essential part of the armamentarium against malaria, and that indoor residual spraying with DDT is most effective in stopping the spread of malaria. The key here is the unique spatial repellency of DDT: Mosquitoes, even those that are DDT-resistant, are repelled by DDT and, more often than not, do not enter a house that has been sprayed.
I say this at the outset of this review, because it is crucial to keep in mind that Shah's denunciations of past and present programs to control or eradicate malaria are consistent with those who are responsible for allowing malaria to continue to kill millions of people—instead of eradicating the disease. My intention here is, for the record, to counter some of the misstatements Shah makes to build her case that malaria isn't all that bad.
Full review available at

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