Use of DDT ruled out in war to roll back malaria

25 Jun 2006
Daily Nation

Kenya has no plans to reintroduce a banned pesticide to control mosquitoes that cause malaria.

The country would continue using alternatives to DDT, banned in the country since 1988 for its adverse effects on the environment and animal health, the head of international health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Ahmed Ogwel, said yesterday.

"The Ministry of Health position is that the substance remains banned until we get further advice from our researchers," said Dr Ogwel.

The announcement comes a few days after Health assistant minister Enock Kibunguchy said a meeting would be held before the end of the year on whether or not to reintroduce the pesticide.

Dr Kibunguchy said DDT was the best option the country had in fighting malaria, a leading child killer that claims 34,000 lives a year and accounts for 20 per cent of hospital admissions.

But Dr Ogwel maintained that alternatives to the substance would continue to be used.

"There are alternatives and DDT is not the magic bullet as far as malaria control is concerned," he added.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, a non-profit research organisation, has announced it would launch two-low cost malaria drugs next year.

"New effective and affordable drugs are urgently needed since resistance to the existing widely used drugs such as chloroquine has rendered cheap and widely used drugs useless," said the organisation's president and CEO, Dr Chris Hentschel.

DDT was developed during World War II. Its high rate of success in fighting malaria, typhus and other diseases spread by insects was commendable.