Press Release: Panel of Doctors lacks logic

Post date: May 11, 2009 4:37:25 PM

In a report on Scientific American on 4th May 2009, a panel of doctors led by a University of California epidemiologist called for restriction in the use of DDT having regards to it widespread use in Africa especially after the endorsement in 2006 by the World Health Organization(WHO).

According to ‘’ The scientists reported that DDT ‘may’ have a variety of human health effects, including reduced fertility, genital birth defects, breast cancer, diabetes and damage to developing brains. Its metabolite, DDE, can

block male hormones’’.

‘’Based on recent studies, we conclude that humans are exposed to DDT and DDE, that indoor residual spraying can result in substantial exposure and that DDT may pose a risk for human populations," the scientists wrote in their consensus statement, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

"We are concerned about the health of children and adults given the persistence of DDT and its active metabolites in the environment and in the body, and we are particularly concerned about the potential effects of continued DDT use on future generations."

In 1947, shortly after the Second World War II, the United States decided to eradicate Malaria from its territory using DDT in an overwhelming aerial dispensing spree. By 1952, US had declared it 13 states in the southern eastern part which had perennial malaria reported cases as Malaria free.

The success of this exercise led to the WHO adopting the DDT strategy in a so called Global Malaria Eradication Campaign which however excluded Black African countries with an excuse that, our part of the world was ‘’not ready’’. While the United States method was aerial dispensing system, WHO opted for Indoor Residual Spraying system. Though not the best strategy having regards to the effectiveness of aerial dispensing system, the programme is reported to have saved 500 million lives in 8 years that would have otherwise have been lost due to Malaria. This number largely does not include black Africans and this explains why 90% of all Malaria illness now occurs in sub-Saharan Africa.

DDT was then praised in superlative terms by the American National Academy of Science and declared a ‘’miracle pesticide’’.

The success of this programme however did not go down with Malthusians. In 1972, United States declared a ban on the use of DDT twenty years later after it had declared Malaria Free. The ban was base on it agricultural use which was responsible for depopulation of birds. Environmental groups joined hands with Malthusians for an unprecedented war against DDT use till today even after WHO endorsement in 2006 under the leadership of Dr. Araka Kochi who admitted to WHO Malaria ‘’policy mess’’ and therefore allowed DDT to be used.

Now, the world has a new group of ‘’menticides’’ referring themselves as Panel of Doctors who want to cause change in priority for donors to push their cash into other interventions other than IRS for eradication. The panel of doctors with all their long paper works were clueless to give alternative to eradicating Malaria and went ahead to say that DDT should be used as a ‘’last resort’’.

This is deeply shocking and should send Black Africans on full scale demonstration against this panel of doctors and their allies. At what point will the world know to use DDT as the last resort? When 100 people are dying per second? Currently, WHO taunts that Malaria kills 2 persons each minute! Is it not enough to tell this Panel of doctors we are in the last resort?

They also had no authentic finding against DDT thereby referring to their disastrous wishes with a ‘’may’’ phrase.

There is no evidence that in the 1960s and 80s when DDT was widely used, it had any disastrous consequence on people.

A research finding in Uganda in 2007, emphatically indicates low levels of DDT in parts per billion (ppb) in the human blood samples, urine, soil, beans, and fish, even after being exposed to the chemical for a long time. The study further established that “there is also no associated environmental damage or human defects of infertility, impotence, neurological abnormalities and cancers.”

What is more, this research is African oriented – conducted on African soil, by African researchers and scientist and clothed with excellent reliability and validity of results. According to Dr Myers Lugemwa of the Department of Medicine, National referral Hospital, in Mulago, Uganda – a member of the team that conducted the research on the effects of DDT in humans and the environment – when the chemical is applied strictly for indoor spraying, it poses very little environmental threat.

After all, if the so call future health problems are to be true, then America should also not produce food and send to so call malnourished and starving children in Africa because it is likely to also cause obesity which has ill effects in the long run just as they claim DDT has ill effect in the future on humans.

I am not an advocate for DDT but found the findings and statement by the so call Panel of Doctors as unreasonable, ill conceived and a ploy against humanity. I am equally aware of effective and efficient technology and insecticides that could be used for a much more highly result oriented aerial dispensing to eradicate Malaria in the continent of Africa if resources going into researches sponsoring programmes like this panel of doctors and nets are channelled for an efficient aerial dispensing system and public education.



Hayford Siaw

Executive Director

Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa