Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Africa

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Statement on the adoption of the use of DDT in the fight against malaria in Africa

On World Malaria Day, April 25, 2016, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Africa renews its support for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which is a key actor in identifying safe malaria control methods not reliant on DDT. PAN Africa also reaffirms its position against the use of DDT in the fight against malaria.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) for over a decade many African countries have recorded a significant mortality and morbidity decrease due to malaria. The emphasis has been on chemical control methods such as the use of long lasting insecticide treated nets, pharmaceutical treatments, indoor spraying with pesticides, or vaccines (currently being tested). However, mosquito control methods not relying on pesticides, in particular DDT, have also been used in many places with great results. The emphasis on chemical alternatives to DDT has been a major concern for many health professionals and scientists in Africa as this has significant long-term risks to human health and the environment.

Not much emphasis has been given to non-chemical malaria control initiatives including biological control or environmental management methods like the solar panel mosquito traps developed by the Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands; local mosquito repellent lotion made from catnip (Nepeta cataria) by the Burundian NGO Consultative Agency for International Cooperation Ethics; the use of natural insecticidal plant such as Neem (Azadirachta indica L.) in Senegal, or the use of Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus L.) to prevent malaria in Congo. In 2015, researchers in Kenya developed a chemical called Cedrol that attracts female mosquitoes around water bodies after which these mosquitoes are trapped before they lay their eggs.

WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria (2016-2030) states that by 2020, an estimated US$ 6.5 billion will be required annually to meet WHO’s milestone of a 40% reduction in malaria incidence and mortality rates. However, these funds are intended primarily for chemical control technologies and on improving national and international strategies against malaria. Non-chemical control is barely mentioned in the report. It is critical that institutions such as the WHO give equal priority to non-chemical malaria control methods by providing human and financial resources for research in that field.

DDT is a threat to human health and the environment. Several studies have shown the short and long-term negative impacts of DDT on human health and the environment. In addition, countries often do not have sufficient manpower to be able to effectively monitor and stop the illegal use of DDT in agriculture. The increasing mosquito resistance to DDT and to other insecticides is of high concern. Over the years rigorous science about the ineffectiveness of DDT and its human health impacts has accumulated. Unfortunately, global institutions spend an inordinate amount of time debating the validity of this evidence and whether DDT use should be curtailed for malaria control. This is time that communities in Africa being harmed by DDT and other pesticides just do not have.

Several countries like Senegal have demonstrated the effectiveness of DDT-free malaria control and have stopped applying for DDT use exemptions to the Stockholm Convention. The Stockholm Convention’s regional workshop on the sound management of DDT held in November 2015 in Nairobi (Kenya), highlights the different steps needed for sound management of several pesticides including DDT, from from their production, to use and disposal. The report highlights the lack of a sound DDT management system in malaria-endemic countries, many of which are low-income countries, thus reducing their capacity to effectively and safely manage DDT for malaria control.

In several African countries many organizations and communities are actively involved in using non-chemical techniques for malaria control. They are key partners for the non-chemical control strategy against malaria. The important work they do in service of least toxic and effective malaria control must be recognized and supported. PAN Africa reaffirms its commitment in the fight against malaria using safe, and sustainable techniques and urges the international community to move with urgency in supporting and implementing effective and efficient alternatives to DDT use in vector control.

Dakar, Senegal, April 25 2016

For more information contact:
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Africa
P.O. Box : 15 938, Dakar-Fann, Senegal
Tel : +221 338254914
Fax : +221 118251443
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PAN AFRICA headquarters N° 15 Castors Rue 1 x J Dakar (SENEGAL)
call : +221 33 825 49 14  Fax : +221 33 825 14 43
Po Box : 15938 Dakar-Fann