What the World Needs Now Is DDT

by | Jun 29, 2006 | Stress Blog | 5 comments

Check out this great article about DDT in the NYT Magazine from 2004.

“Probably the worst thing that ever happened to malaria in poor nations was its eradication in rich ones. That has made one of Africa’s leading killers shockingly invisible. ”’Silent Spring’ had a clear message about things at home Americans could see and touch and feel,” said Brooks B. Yeager, vice president of the Global Threats Program for the World Wildlife Fund. ”Americans who live on the Carolina coast know the brown pelicans have come back” since DDT spraying was halted. ”Malaria is a long way away. You have to read about it or see in person its devastation, and not many Americans have the opportunity to do it.”

Lawrence Barat, the World Bank’s adviser on malaria control, said, ”When I tell people I work on malaria, sometimes I get, ‘Gee, I didn’t know it still existed.”’

One of the most depressing aspects of talking about malaria is that you get to hear the phrase ”the powerful AIDS lobby,” a term no one but a malariologist would use. AIDS in the third world is still criminally underfinanced, but at least it gets some money and a lot of attention. Malaria gets AIDS’s dregs. AIDS was a sudden plague, very visible in its choice of victims, and it has a vocal constituency in rich countries. Even in Africa, malaria gets nowhere near the attention of AIDS. It has always been around, and it kills not middle-class adults but rural 4-year-olds, who don’t have much of a lobby.”

Hat tip: Lew

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