Location: Accra, Accra, Ghana

Franklin Cudjoe is head of Ghanaian think-tank Imani: The Centre for Humane Education, whose vision is to educate and create a core of young scholars that will promote market oriented policies throughout Africa. He was formerly a programme officer and research assistant at the Institute of Economic Affairs in Ghana. A Land Economist by training, Franklin works closely with partner think-tanks across the world to promote public policy ideas in Ghana and abroad. He is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media about Africa development issues, including appearances on BBC, CBC, Swiss and Swedish National TV, Austrian National Radio and varied local Ghanaian media, and has been published or quoted in the Ghanaian Daily Graphic Accra Daily Mail, Ghana Web, My Joy online, London's Daily Telegraph,The Wall Street Journal, El Mercurio (Chile), La Republica (Costa Rica),the Ottawa Citizen, the San Francisco Chronicle, Netzeitung Voice Of Germany, and many others. Franklin speaks to policy makers, students groups in Ghana and abroad. Franklin is an Adjunct Fellow at the Independent Institute in the USA and the International Policy Network in London.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

An Important Message from Paul Jacob-Help the Fight Against Malaria in Africa

An Important Message from Paul Jacob-Help the Fight Against Malaria in Africa

October 17, 2005

Dying to be politically correct

By Paul Jacob
Senior Fellow, Americans for Limited Government

Each year, malaria ravages the lives of 500 million people worldwide,causing more than a million deaths, most of them children, mostly inAfrica. But not in the United States. We suffer only a handful ofmalaria deaths each year. That wasn't always the case, though.

In the early years of the last century, there were counties in the U.S.with higher rates of malaria mortality than Freetown, Sierra Leone inAfrica. Then, in the late 1940s, a chemical agent calleddichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane - or DDT for short - was used insidemillions of American homes to eradicate malarial mosquitoes, the no-goodcritters that carry the disease. Malaria is no longer a significantproblem in our country.

Now, each year, the U.S. government spends $200 million to help preventmalaria in the rest of the world, primarily in Africa and Asia. That'smighty nice of us. But none of the money goes for the inside residentialspraying of DDT that allowed Americans to get a handle on the spread ofthe disease.

This summer President Bush announced a new five-year $1.2 billion effortto prevent malaria abroad. But, again, no money for DDT.
DDT was banned in the United States by the Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) back in 1972. Rachel Carson's 1962 book, Silent Spring,argued that agricultural use of DDT was harming birds and otherwildlife. The book touched off the environmental movement and served asthe key catalyst in banning DDT, giving junk science one of its firstbig victories. (By the way, you can get a copy of Carson's book with aspiffy introduction from former Vice-President Al Gore.)

The problem is that Carson's scary conclusions are not backed upscientifically.

The scare-mongering on DDT led to extensive hearings on the chemicalagent in 1971 and 1972. After the hearings, EPA Administrative Law JudgeEdmund Sweeney concluded, "DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man . . .DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man. . . . The use ofDDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effecton freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife."

But Judge Sweeney was summarily overruled by Nixon EPA AdministratorWilliam Ruckelshaus, who, after not attending a single hour of thehearing and reportedly not reading the transcript either, nonethelessdecided to ban DDT. Perhaps the Nixon Administration thought the banwould get the environmentalists off their backs. Instead, junk sciencewas emboldened and millions would be put on their backs by diseases -malaria top among them - that are best controlled through DDT.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. ban led to a de facto worldwide ban, withUSAID and the World Health Organization moving away from DDT to moreexpensive insecticides and drugs to treat malaria. These other methodsdo not work as well and their expense is a not unimportant factor forimpoverished countries in Africa.

Now, European countries are even threatening to embargo agriculturalproducts from countries that use DDT to control malaria. This hasUgandans debating whether to risk losing much of their internationalmarket for agricultural products in order to use DDT, or whether to letmore people die of malaria in order to keep that market open.

"Even if we do not use DDT," said Agriculture Minister Janat Mukwaya,"Uganda might lose the international market to China as our peoplecontinue to die from malaria."
Dead men don't raise crops.

DDT use in South Africa and other African countries has beencontroversial, but the results have not - reductions of 75 and 80percent in the number of malaria cases and deaths. Author and physicianMichael Critchton told San Francisco's Commonwealth Club in 2003 thatthe de facto ban on DDT use in malaria control "has killed more peoplethan Hitler."

Yes, DDT can save lives. But it isn't politic. So while the U.S. andEurope have escaped the ravages of malaria through the internalresidential spraying of DDT, some continue to promote policies that denyDDT use to Africans and Asians. In effect, it is a death sentence formillions, made for political reasons, without any basis in science.

If U.S. taxpayers are to fund programs ostensibly designed to savelives, those programs ought to use methods that actually work. That'sjust common sense.

Your Senator has the power to mandate that our aid include the use ofindoor residential spraying of DDT, which would save millions of lives. But time is limited: the congressional decisions on the allocation offunds for malaria control must be made in the coming weeks. Furthermore,the treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants signed by the BushAdministration in 2001 has not yet been ratified by the U.S. Senate.
That ratification should not come without explicit legislation tying ouraid monies to the use of DDT to kill and repel malarial mosquitoes.

Please take just a moment right now to contact your Senators (and thePresident) if you agree that this money should go to saving lives - andnot be squandered on the altar of junk science or the cowardly politicsof 30 years ago.


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