Jan. 1st, 2007

[identity profile] mhaille.livejournal.com

DDT and Africa's war on malaria

One of the most powerful weapons in the war against malaria is the insecticide DDT - effective in curbing the disease-carrying mosquito but also lethal to the environment as a whole. The BBC's Mike Donkin examines South Africa's controversial use of the chemical and the pressures facing neighbouring Mozambique as it struggles to battle malaria without it.

Malaria kills a million people a year in Africa - mainly in the poorest nations south of the Sahara. Most of these victims are children.

Babies and the very young have little resistance to the parasite, which is passed on by the Anopheles funestus mosquito when it pierces the skin to feed on human blood - the parasite that causes malaria is in the mosquito's saliva.

A still wider epidemic is threatened because the malarial parasite has becomes more and more resistant to drugs, like chloraquine, used until now to treat the disease.

No alternative medicine has yet been developed which can be made available soon enough, or in the quantities and at the price that African nations can afford.

So other ways must urgently be found to counter malaria, and one to which some countries are returning is to spray mosquitoes with the chemical long-proven to be the best at killing them - DDT.

It is a chemical, however, known to be lethal to some wildlife and feared to pose a potential risk to humans.

Read more... )


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