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article imageMalawi going for DDT to fight malaria Special

By Chancy Namadzunda     Jun 20, 2010 in Health
Lilongwe - Malawi may soon start using DDT, an organochlorine pesticide, as a precaution in its fight against malaria in the country.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Chris Kang’ombe said DDT may be an option in Lilongwe during the launch of this year’s anti-malaria campaign themed, “Malungo zii (Kick out malaria)”.
“We know that our friends from Zambia and other countries are using it as an indoor residual spraying and it is working, so we are looking into it if we can do the same,” said Kang’ombe.
According to 2004-2009 statistical data provided by the UN, World Bank, WHO and UNAIDS, there were 4, 204, 468 reported malaria cases, 12,950 estimated malaria deaths and 7,132 reported malaria deaths in Malawi.
“We sent a team to Zambia to do a research on the use of DDT in fighting malaria and once the
recommendations are made we will see what to do. We know that they are successful but we have to look at what effects DDT has on environment and agriculture taking into consideration that our economy is agro-based,” he said.
Fighting malaria in Malawi
Fighting malaria in Malawi
Some commentators and activists have raised concerns about DDT contaminating the environment if it is used in vector control. As with the other insecticides used in IRS, DDT causes minimal or zero contamination of the wider environment. Because DDT does not escape into the wider environment, it poses little or no threat to wildlife.
Results from the 2008 MIS demonstrated the dramatic progress Zambia is making in its fight to control malaria. Since 2006, malaria parasite prevalence in children has been reduced by 50 percent, and moderate to severe anemia has been reduced by more than 60 percent.
DDT is not only highly effective in malaria control, but it is also significantly cheaper than the other insecticides that are suitable for indoor residual spraying (IRS). It is easy to use and safe for both the residents of houses sprayed and the sprayers themselves.
More people than ever are sleeping under bed nets and two-thirds of all households are protected by at least one ITN or indoor residual spraying.
Use of DDT to fight malaria has been increasing since it was endorsed in 2006 by the World Health Organization and the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), a U.S. aid program launched by former President Bush.
USAID provides approximately $26 million per year to Malawi under PMI to purchase and distribute about 1, 600, 000 long life insecticide-treated bed nets, according to its Malawi office fact sheet.
“It is also used to purchase and distribute a national supply of over 6.6 million doses of life saving artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) drugs, implement an Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) programme for 28, 000 households and provide preventive treatment for malaria nationwide for pregnant women attending antenatal care,” reads part of the report.
PMI activities began in Malawi in 2007 and the U.S. government has committed a total of $107 million for addressing malaria over the five year period of 2007-2012.
"With six million cases of malaria per year in Malawi, the fight against malaria is far from over but through close
collaborations between the governments of the United States and Malawi and other partners, we are making progress," said Curt Reintsma, USAID Mission Director.
In 2009, data showed that use of ITNs by vulnerable children improved to 61% from 37% in 2005
"We rededicate our partnership between Malawi and the United States to defeat this preventable and treatable killer,” said Reintsma.
Kang’ombe said the ministry has been implementing several malaria control strategies aimed at reducing the burden of malaria to a level of no public health significance in Malawi. These strategic areas which are coordinated by the NMCP includes; Malaria Case Management, Intermittent Preventive Treatment for pregnant women (IPTp) where women are routinely provided with at least 2 doses of SP during pregnancy.
“Integrated Vector Management is another major strategy that the ministry of health is implementing as one of the control measures for malaria in Malawi. This involves distribution of Insecticide Treated Mosquito nets and Indoor Residual Spraying. Operational Research, Monitoring and Evaluation and Information, Education and Communication/Advocacy are some of the cross cutting strategic areas that are also being implemented,” said Kang’ombe adding.
Some nations which are using DDT include Ethiopia, South Africa, India, Mauritius, Myanmar, Yemen, Uganda, Mozambique and Swaziland, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Eritrea, Gambia, Namibia and Zambia.
DDT may have a variety of human health effects, including reduced fertility, genital birth defects, breast cancer, diabetes and damage to developing brains. Its metabolite, DDE and can block male hormones.
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