The underlying science used by a coalition of global public health groups to promote the restriction and ultimate banning of DDT use for eradication of malaria is false, dangerous and misguided, a new study published in the journal Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine says. Study authors Dr. Donald R. Roberts of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Dr. Richard Tren, research fellow at the Environment Unit of the Institute of Economic Affairs, reviewed data from a Global Environment Facility (GEF) project conducted in Mexico and seven Central American countries from 2003 to 2008. In conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme and the Stockholm Convention Secretariat (the Secretariat), the $14 million GEF project implemented so-called environmentally sound anti-malarial interventions that excluded insecticides including DDT in eight high malaria risk areas and compared their efficacy to control areas.
Despite the fact that there was no statistically significant reduction in malaria rates between the control and intervention groups, GEF went on to publicize that their methods were effective in diminishing malaria and used this misrepresentation as a platform to justify the Secretariat s plan to eliminate DDT production by 2017 and ban its use by 2020.
Dr. Tren and Dr. Roberts point out that in order to ultimately obtain statistically favorable results, GEF instead compared the difference in the number of malaria cases for intervention areas only in 2004 and 2007 and found improvements that they later attributed to the success of their program, even though the data was factitious.
ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross condemns the GEF project and their use of faulty statistics to promote an anti-DDT campaign. Since their original study proved to be ineffective, GEF decided to resort to a different parameter instead in order to put forth the position that DDT isn t necessary to alleviate the malaria toll. They were pushing the success of their program even though there was no substance to their claims. Without the availability of DDT, the fight against malaria which kills between 800,000 and one million people annually is going to be near impossible.
The study authors emphasize this latter point in their paper, in which they state that malaria can be contained and perhaps eradicated if all available tools, to include DDT, are made available and employed in an organized and systematic way.