Mixed messages from the United Nations on malaria

22 Oct 2010
Africa Fighting Malaria
AFM is pleased the United Nations General Assembly supports the use of insecticides (including DDT) and IRS for malaria control and even calls for investment in new insecticides. And yet at the same time, WHA Resolution 50.13 remains in place, working against the use of insecticides. The UNGA recognizes the importance of DDT in malaria control, but the Stockholm Convention Secretariat and the UNEP seek to halt all production of DDT by 2017 and end all use by 2020. In May 2009, the UNEP, WHO and GEF announced "...a rejuvenated international effort to combat malaria with an incremental reduction of reliance on the synthetic pesticide DDT." These are mixed messages; it is time for WHO to send out a clear message about the use of insecticides (including DDT) for malaria control and undo the damage being done by UNEP, the Stockholm Convention Secretariat and others.

From the Resolution adopted by the General Assembly at its Sixty-fourth session:
2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa

The General Assembly,

28. Calls upon the international community and malaria-endemic countries, in accordance with existing guidelines and recommendations of the World Health Organization and the requirements of the Stockholm Convention, to increase capacity for the safe, effective and judicious use of indoor residual spraying and other forms of vector control and for quality control measures to ensure conformity with international rules, standards and guidelines;

29. Urges the international community to become fully knowledgeable about World Health Organization technical policies and strategies and the provisions in the Stockholm Convention related to the use of DDT, including for indoor residual spraying, long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and case management, intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women and monitoring of in vivo resistance studies to artemisinin-based combination therapy treatment, so that projects support those policies, strategies and provisions;

30. Requests the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund and donor agencies to provide support to those countries which choose to use DDT for indoor residual spraying so as to ensure that it is implemented in accordance with international rules, standards and guidelines, and to provide all possible support to malaria-endemic countries to manage the intervention effectively and prevent the contamination, in particular, of agricultural products with DDT and other insecticides used for indoor residual spraying;

31. Encourages the World Health Organization and its member States, with the support of the parties to the Stockholm Convention, to continue to explore possible alternatives to DDT as a vector control agent;

Full Resolution available at http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/64/79