Namibian health minister: Give us DDT

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Namibia’s minister of health and social services writes in The Wall Street Journal Europethat when it comes to using DDT for malaria control, his country and others still face pressure from anti-insecticide activists and restrictions from an international treaty called the Stockholm Convention. Spraying the insecticide inside houses to repel mosquitos (indoor residual spraying) is the cornerstone of an effort to eliminate the disease in southern Africa — but Richard Nchabi Kamwi says that the number of manufacturers of DDT have dwindled to just one, a state-owned factory in India. He writes further:

There are several reasons to defend DDT and ensure we have ongoing supplies. First, DDT is safe for humans and the environment. Since the 1940s thousands of scientific studies have investigated potential harm to human health from DDT. Almost all these studies are weak, inconclusive or contradictory; in other words there is no evidence of harm. On the other hand there is well-documented evidence of its great public-health benefits. As Minister of Health, I have to evaluate the full body of scientific evidence and balance risks. With regard to DDT and malaria, any rational balancing of risks will favor DDT.

“DDT has saved more lives than any other chemical known to man,” says Dr. Ross. “The hysteria-based, unscientific regulation of it — based mainly on Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the opposite of a science-based risk analysis — is intolerable and should be revoked.”