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Old 09-16-2006, 07:00 PM   #1
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Some Good News

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The World Health Organization on Friday called on more developing countries, particularly in Africa, to begin spraying the controversial pesticide DDT to fight malaria.

The difference: DDT, longed banned in the United States because of environmental damage, is no longer sprayed outdoors. Instead it's used to coat the inside walls of mud huts or other dwellings and kill mosquitoes waiting to bite families as they sleep. . . .

"We must take a position based on the science and the data," said Dr. Arata Kochi, the WHO's malaria chief. "One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual house spraying. Of the dozen insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT."

"It's a big change," said biologist Amir Attaran of Canada's University of Ottawa, who has long pushed for the guidelines and described a recent draft. "There has been a lot of resistance to using insecticides to control malaria, and one insecticide especially. … That will have to be re-evaluated by a lot of people."

The U.S. government already has decided to pay for DDT and other indoor insecticide use as part of President Bush's $1.2 billion, five-year initiative to control malaria in Africa.
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Old 09-16-2006, 07:04 PM   #2
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There was a 20/20 episode that aired not too long ago claiming that the risk of DDT related side effects is greatly exaggerated.
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:33 AM   #3
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What are the supposed risks of DDT? Are they worse than malaria?
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Old 09-17-2006, 11:51 AM   #4
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Originally posted by coemgen
What are the supposed risks of DDT? Are they worse than malaria?
I think a main one is birth defects, but this would be rare relative to malaria infections.

I don't know how I feel about this. I hate reducing people's lives to simple utilitarianism.

DDT is not the only solution. In many areas, non-profits have seen malaria infections drop drastically when people are provided with mosquito nets and taught the importance of using them. Most of the nets are treated with something that repels or kills the mosquito.
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Old 09-17-2006, 02:32 PM   #5
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That's what I've always heard. My friends from Sudan love bringing back mosquito nets.
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Old 09-17-2006, 02:57 PM   #6
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Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic


I think a main one is birth defects, but this would be rare relative to malaria infections.

I don't know how I feel about this. I hate reducing people's lives to simple utilitarianism.

DDT is not the only solution. In many areas, non-profits have seen malaria infections drop drastically when people are provided with mosquito nets and taught the importance of using them. Most of the nets are treated with something that repels or kills the mosquito.
DDT alone is useless, the mosquitos develop resistance - evolution at work - but it can be an integral part of an anti-malarial program; the turning around on this issue is a very good thing, the Green movement was right about the problems with large scale agricultural use of DDT to the environment but the reaction was too extreme and has let a lot of people die.
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:02 PM   #7
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I'm in favor of DDT, but it does bear controversy.

It was used not very intelligently in the Vietnam War. It was used to kill malaria, but it also killed cats. As a result of a lack of planning, rats ended up turning up everywhere.

On the other hand, we wouldn't face those potential risks when curing malaria with DDT, if this were a safer alternative:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/988316.stm
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