PRESS RELEASE

UN News Network Spews Propaganda. IRIN story "utterly outrageous, deeply misguided and frankly dangerous"

November 1 2003 -- A recent article issued by the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a division of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has appalled the malaria control community. "This piece of reporting is utterly outrageous, deeply misguided and frankly dangerous," asserts Richard Tren, South Africa Director of Africa Fighting Malaria.

The article, "Health concerns over reintroduction of DDT," relied upon the assertions of unnamed officials and one "agricultural expert", Edward Mkhosi, to make a sensationalist case against the use of DDT as part of an Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) Program.

The article discusses the Zimbabwe government's decision to use DDT in malaria control. The article claims that using DDT to control malaria would be a disaster as it will slowly "poison" the population and will kill infants at an alarming rate.

"I am really disturbed by the article coming from people who know nothing about IRS (Indoor Residual Spraying) in general and DDT in particular," says Dr. John Govere of the World Health Organization. . Dr. Donald Roberts of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, agrees, "In just 2-3 years DDT spraying in Guyana reduced maternal deaths by 56% and infant mortality by 36%. There was no offset of maternal and infant deaths due to adverse affects of DDT."

Malaria kills a 1-3 million a year, but the vast majority of 60 years of evidence agrees with the opinion of the (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences, "...there is still no clinical or epidemiological evidence of damage to man from approved uses of DDT."

"I am particularly disappointed that a UN group organized to combat misinformation and propaganda would publish a story that consists almost entirely of misinformation and propaganda," states Jennifer Zambone, DC Director of Africa Fighting Malaria. "I urge them to publish a swift retraction that sets the record straight. With a child dying every 30 seconds from malaria from malaria, it's the only humane thing to do."

Contact:
Richard Tren, +27 11 884 9578, or email rtren@fightingmalaria.org,
Jennifer Zambone, 202-331-1010, or email jzambone@fightingmalaria.org;

Africa Fighting Malaria is a health advocacy group based in South Africa and Washington DC