'Condemned to die' by malaria, Ugandans plead for DDT use

Katie Lewis | 29 Nov 2006
Ottawa Citizen


KAMPALA, Uganda -- When she was a little girl, the witch doctors beat Fiona Kobusingye with sticks and fed her foul medicine that made her lose control of her hands.Then, they made deep jagged cuts -- each about a thumb's length -- across her back. They collected her blood and sprinkled it on the ground to ward off the spirits the witch doctors thought caused malaria.Mrs. Kobusingye was lucky. She survived, grew up, and had a son named Kenneth.

But, like Mrs. Kobusingye, Kenneth also became sick. He was not lucky. Mrs. Kobusingye walked, carrying her dying son in her arms for kilometres, to the clinic. Kenneth died of malaria -- convulsing as he fiercely bit his tongue, blood rushing down his cheeks "I lost him," said Mrs. Kobusingye quietly, sitting tall. "I will never have him again. I will never be happy. He died with my dreams.

"Today, Mrs. Kobusingye is one of Uganda's most outspoken proponents of DDT in the fight against malaria. For her, DDT is a magic bullet. She sees it as a cheap, effective alternative that will prevent other children from dying of malaria. Yet DDT does not come without controversy, prompting pro-tests and fierce debate in this small country in East Africa.

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'Condemned to die' by malaria, Ugandans plead for DDT use, By Katie Lewis, Ottowa Citizen, November 29, 2006; Page A11