Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) continues to be used in South Africa in the hopes of eliminating the spread of malaria in the country by 2018. DDT has proved to be a vital tool in working to reach this goal, and South Africa was praised for its efforts in dealing with the spread of malaria at an African Union event.
In 1996, South Africa ceased using DDT due to pressure from environmental groups. As a consequence, cases of malaria increased from 10,000 cases in 1995 to almost 65,000 cases in 2000. President Jacob Zuma states that “the cause of this increase was mainly due to the particular species that transmitted malaria, which was once eradicated with DDT, had reappeared and was resistant to other types of insecticides.” After deciding to reinstate the use of DDT, cases of malaria continue to decrease, and returned to 10,000 in 2001.
Because of this progress, the World Health Organization changed its views on the use of DDT to control malaria, saying that South Africa’s program is “evidence that controlled indoor spraying of the insecticide was not only safe, but one of the best tools we have against the killer disease.”
ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross applauds this growing trend towards science-based public health for dealing with one of Africa’s most intractable problems, malaria. “The so-called ‘environmentalists’ whose dogma against DDT derives from the 50-year-old tome, ‘Silent Spring,’ have never lost a child to malaria, that’s for sure. Yet they have done their utmost to, in effect, kill a million Africans each year by denying them the use of the safest and most effective method to reduce that toll: DDT.”