Jewish World Review Nov. 11, 2005 / 8 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766
Let's kill the malaria mosquitoes now
By Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak
A recent Association of American Physician and Surgeons (AAPS) article
notes, "The Kill Malarial Mosquitoes NOW! Declaration asks that two-thirds
of world malaria control monies be spent on DDT, or any more cost-effective
insecticide, plus artemisia-based combination therapies (ACTs)." Currently
almost none of the $200 million that U.S. taxpayers contribute to world
malaria control each year is spent on controlling the vector.
In a courageous statement, Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls for DDT use to
fight malaria. Nobel Laureate Tutu has joined an international coalition
calling on the Bush Administration and Congress to deploy DDT as a primary
weapon in world malaria control policy.
South Africa slashed malaria rates by 96 percent in just three years, using
a combination of DDT and ACT. Zambia reduced malaria by 75 percent in two
years, through private efforts, also using DDT. A single spraying of
household walls protects everyone in the home for at least six months.
In contrast, insecticide-treated bed nets "could" reduce childhood malaria
deaths "by as much as one-fifth," according to the World Bank.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged more than a quarter of a
billion dollars to research a vaccine, which might be available by 2011.
Just last week, a Perspective in the November 3, 2005, New England Journal
of Medicine titled, "Betting on a Malaria Vaccine," notes that "Sometime
within the next two years, clinical researchers are expected to begin
inoculating at least 2000 African infants in the largest trial ever
undertaken of an experimental vaccine for malaria . . . If the vaccine is
found to reduce significantly the rates of death and severe illness in
children with malaria, it will be viewed as a public health triumph. An
expensive failure, on the other hand, could slow progress toward
controlling the disease.
The Perspective further notes that even if a vaccine is developed, it will
still require medications, bed nets and mosquito control methods to reduce
the morbidity and mortality of the disease.
In closing, the NEJM author quotes Brain Greenwood, a researcher in this
anti-malaria effort, who offered a prediction that there would be a vaccine
in use by 2015 that offers partial protection, "but we don't know which one
it will be and whether it will be affordable."
In the meantime while we anxiously wait, hope and pray for 10 years,
malaria infects 500 million people and kills more than a million each year.
These are mostly African babies and pregnant women, as USAID, the European
Union, and others have effectively denied African nations access to DDT.
Along with Archbishop Tutu, others supporting the Kill Malarial Mosquitoes
NOW! Declaration are the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); former Surgeon
General of the Navy Admiral Harold Koenig, M.D.; and Greenpeace cofounder
Would you rather destroy the insect that carries the parasite that bites
the man (or woman) and gives him the disease or invite the malarial
parasite in and hope the medicines and a future vaccine will help?
It is time for Congress to stop playing politics with a deadly disease and
take a stand against malaria particularly when the DDT solution is so
simple, inexpensive, proven to be effective and is available now not ten
or more years from now!
Editor's Note: Michael Arnold Glueck submitted this week's comment.
"DDT: a Case Study in Scientific Fraud," by J Gordon Edwards, J Am Phys
Surg, Fall 2004
"New York Times Supports DDT to Fight Malaria," News of the Day, Jan 11, 2005
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Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.