Uganda: Global Health Body Approves DDT Use

Joyce Namutebi & John Odyek | 07 May 2008
New Vision

The World Health Organisation and the European Union have cleared Uganda to spray DDT to kill mosquitoes that spread malaria. Health minister Dr. Stephen Mallinga told Parliament on Tuesday that the organisations made the approval after studying how Uganda would spray the chemical

He explained that DDT would be prayed on walls inside houses to repel the mosquitoes and it would stay on the walls for about six months. The spraying, the minister added, had begun in the most malaria endemic areas in Oyam and Apac districts in the northern region. Environmentalists have opposed the use of the chemical, saying it is harmful to human beings but the health ministry insists it is safe. Mallinga urged MPs to discuss the reintroduction of DDT.

He explained that the ministry had used ICON in Kigezi, Amuru and Pader to kill mosquitoes but it lasts a short time and is more expensive. Erute South MP John Odit (UPC) was worried that the Government had used ICON in the southwest and Acholi, but chose to apply DDT in Lango, an area that it had gazetted for organic cotton production.

He said one person whose house had been sprayed told him that the chemical had attracted more mosquitoes than there were before. On the Hepatitis E outbreak in Kitgum district, Mallinga noted that there was no medicine for treating the disease. He advised residents to avoid the contaminating food and water with human waste.

The disease that was first reported in November last year has claimed about 30 lives, according to the Kitgum LC5 chairman, Komakech John Ogwok. Mallinga did not have statistics on the dead but promised to update Parliament later.