Articles for March 2005

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I refer to the article entitled: 'Questions that will not go away about the DDT Malaria eradication project' authored by Muganga Kizito of Michigan, USA (New Vision, Feb 12, page nine) and another story entitled: 'DDT may cause 32B loss annually', says EU by your reporter Harriette Onyalla (New Vision Feb 12, page 32).

Allow me to make comments on both articles in this letter.

Let me begin with issues raised by Muganga. The estimated cost for the use of DDT cannot be given now because we have not yet costed it. We have not decided what we are going to cover; whether the whole country or not.

However, suffice it to say DDT is the cheapest insecticide compared to others with a difference of up to sh6,000 per household sprayed. It is cheaper and more effective in a sense that it is capable of remaining active for nine months. The money to use for DDT or any other is not a loan, but a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

DDT may be imported from known countries that produce it, including Ethiopia, China, India and Brazil.

DDT can also be produced in our laboratories if we so decided. A management unit composed of qualified staff will be used in its control, monitoring and management. Spraying will be in all areas that need it. We will begin with the most epidemic prone districts. As the Ministry and government, we will take responsibility for all the results of its use.

I now come to the article by Harriete Onyalla, which quoted Guy Rijcken, EU Charge' d'affairs as saying that DDT use for agriculture was banned by EU." That he added further that: "Impending widespread use of DDT threatens the strong trade partnership between the Government and the private sector and EU."

I am glad Rijcken talks about banning DDT for agricultural use not for public health use. I hope the difference is understood by all. In agriculture, DDT is used to spray crops and fields to kill pests, thereby putting it in the soil.

Using Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) for disease control, a limited amount of DDT is sprayed inside houses.

I agree with him that DDT was banned (rightly or wrongly). But it was banned as a pesticide and not for vector disease control.

We are not proposing to use DDT for agricultural use, in which case, it would probably affect agricultural products.

As regards "impending widespread use", that is someone's imagination because we are talking about Indoor Residual Spraying or selected areas and inside houses.

Surely, this cannot qualify to be termed widespread use. The author wanted to know whether we will have qualified people to handle DDT. As said earlier, we will have a competent unit to monitor its use and impact.

May I request Ugandans, who are listening to and reading different views, including the alleged Charge d'Affairs comments to take into consideration the loss of 100,000 or more of our people, mostly children and pregnant women and loss of over $340m per annum due to malaria.

Lastly, right now, the Government is carrying out consultations with all stakeholders internally and externally, including environmental impact assessment study to ensure that we have everyone on board before we start using DDT.

You may also wish to know that World Health Organisation (WHO) approves IRS using DDT. Other countries are already using it and are exporting their agricultural products to many countries, including the EU.

New Vision (Kampala)