Articles for April 2006
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Health Ministry Launches New Malaria Drug  - Angola Press
Angola changes malaria treatment to ACTs and is now in line with neighbouring Zambia. This is good news for malaria patients. WHO's new head of malaria, Dr Arata Kochi deserves credit for the agressive way in which he is championing the new treatment guidelines.

Ministry Distributes Coartem  - New Vision
Good news for malaria treatment in Uganda as the country starts to distribute Coartem - the artemsinin-based combination therapy.

AFM writes to EU to demand explanation on DDT & Uganda issue  - AFM
Richard Tren & Roger Bate have written to Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, demanding an explanation of the fear mongering anti-DDT statements made by EU officials in Uganda. Currently it seems that the EU is going against the WHO, Global Fund and USAID in blocking the use of DDT and thereby harming malaria control, health & development in Uganda.

Official Suspects Good Roads Spread Malaria  - Thato Chwaane
Botswana's Minister of Health claims that roads are spreading malaria. Increased movement of people may introduce parasites to new areas, but the roads also mean that medicines can be delivered better and that the country can prosper and grow, which ultimately will help it to eliminate malaria and other diseases.

This Money Won't Buy Happiness  - Steve Forbes
Steve Forbes pours much needed cold water on Bono and Tony Blair's ongoing calls for more aid to Africa. He also highlights the need for DDT to control malaria in Africa.

International Fast Day Against Malaria to be held on May 11, 2006.  - IFAM Press Release
The International Fast Day Against Malaria announces the first ever Fast Against Malaria on May 11 2006.

Expert Wants DDT Ban Lifted  - Mathias Ringa
This would be a good start for Kenya - it is something that they have debated for a considerable time - while thousands of children have perished. It is time for the talking to stop, the government should chose an area, try out IRS with DDT and other insecticides and based on the evidence either roll it out to other areas or try another interventions

Uganda to use DDT despite EU concerns  - The East African
Uganda is doing the right thing - but the EU's position is still despicable. Instead of saying that Uganda is 'taking a risk' the EU should be explaining that there are no conceivable risks to EU consumers and furthermore they should be helping to save lives by buying DDT for Uganda and supporting their malaria control program.

Nigerian Herbal Cream Holds Malaria Vaccine Promise  - Onche Odeh
The quest for a veritable vaccine against malaria may have received a major boost as a herbal dermal preparation made in Nigeria has been suspected to bear the much needed clue.

New Malaria Drug Out  - Ronald Kalyango
The Ugandan Minister of Health recently announced that artemesinin combination therapies (ACTS's) will be the new first line treatment for malaria.

Breaking The Transmission Cycle Through Which Malaria Is Passed On - Studying The Relationship Between The Parasite And The Mosquito  -
Researchers at the Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine at Keele University, in the West Midlands region of the UK, are focusing their efforts on trying to break the transmission cycle through which the disease is passed on, by studying the complex relationship between the parasite and the mosquito itself.

Angola And U.S. Sign Memorandum On Malaria  - Angola Press Agency
The fight against malaria gets a boost in Angola - as IRS is an integral part of the new USAID malaria control program in that country, we are confident that malaria rates will start to fall.

WASHINGTON--Imagine that every year the world suffered from six or more tsunamis producing the horrific death toll recently experienced.

That's how many people die every year from malaria alone, and the tsunami may contribute to even higher rates this year. The disaster has created a new habitat suitable for the proliferation of malaria- and other disease-carrying mosquitoes.

The emergence of malaria could increase the death toll of this catastrophe by another 100,000 if nothing is done to control the mosquito population, according to Richard Allan of MENTOR, a malaria response program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Public health officials can take steps to reduce the impact, one of which involves using the controversial pesticide DDT. Since the 1960s, green activists pushed bans of the substance around the world based largely on false claims about its health effects. The result was a public health disaster, contributing to skyrocketing malaria rates.

Yet, finally, two environmental leaders reluctantly admitted that nations may need to use DDT to save lives in tsunami-affected regions.

Recently, quoted by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Greenpeace's Rick Hind explained that the organization was "all for" DDT use "if there's nothing else and it's going to save lives," while the World Wildlife Fund's Richard Liroff noted that it has "saved lots of lives" in South Africa.

DDT is the best tool for controlling the spread of malaria. It can be applied in and around huts and other homes that don't have screens and other devices that effectively keep out mosquitoes. Used this way, DDT repels mosquitoes from entering the homes. This approach is effective because malaria-carrying mosquitoes feed largely at night when people are inside.

DDT has a proven record of effectiveness. Many nations, including the United States, eradicated malaria-carrying mosquitoes using DDT.

South Africa nearly did the same, but it stopped using DDT under political pressure. After halting DDT use, cases rose from about 4,100 in 1995 to more than 27,000 by 1999, according to a study conducted by researchers Amir Attaran and Rajendra Maharaj. In recent years, South Africa resumed DDT use, and cases have dropped 85 percent, according to Roger Bate of Africa Fighting Malaria.

Despite anti-DDT activist claims, DDT has not been shown to have any adverse impacts on human health. According to A.G. Smith of the scientific journal The Lancet, "If the huge amounts of DDT used are taken into account, the safety record for human beings is extremely good. In the 1940s, many people were deliberately exposed to high concentrations of DDT through dusting programmes or impregnation of clothes, without any apparent ill effect."

Additionally, limited use of DDT for malaria control does not affect wildlife because it is not used widely in the environment where animals could be exposed.

Given these realities, world policymakers should rescind the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Treaty), the international treaty that seriously restricts DDT use and will ban it in the future along with 11 other chemicals.

The POPs Treaty--ratified by some nations and awaiting U.S. ratification--is based on the faulty assumption that world regulators need to take products off the market to protect the public, even though some nations and individuals find them valuable.

The DDT ban reveals the dangers of such policies. As nations debated the POPs Treaty, between 1 million and 2 million people--mostly children--have been dying annually from malaria. Another 400 million suffer from the devastating effects of the malaria disease.

POPs Treaty supporters defend their position by noting that the treaty has a limited exemption to allow limited use of DDT use for malaria control. But the treaty--along with nation-level bans of the substance--eliminates incentives for its production, limiting its production and supply. DDT production is now limited to the efforts of a few governments.

In addition, the treaty applies bureaucratic red tape to nations that seek to use DDT, making it more difficult and more expensive to access. Finally, the treaty provisions call for an eventual all-out ban.

The tsunami disaster certainly warrants emergency use of DDT--as some environmental activists admit. But equally clear is that the annual malaria disaster in Africa and in other places warrants its use around the world today and as long as it is needed in the future.

The Free Lance-Star (Fredricksburg, VA, USA).