The World Health Organization (WHO) forcefully endorsed the use of DDT across Africa (Dugger). One million people in Africa die each year from malaria and 800,000 of those dying are children (Tren & Bate, 1). South Africa hit hard by malaria with an increase of 1000 percent in five years (Tren & Bate, 1). The numbers are staggering when one considers the devastation mosquitos cause and a need for insecticide to reduce their population is obvious. DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), the first modern synthetic insecticide developed in the 1940s. When first developed it was very effective in reducing insect borne malaria and typhus (EPA.gov).Over the years, with increased use mosquitos have become resistant to DDT (EPA.gov). In 1972, DDT showed adverse effects on the environment and possibly human (EPA.gov). DDT research has shown a possible negative relationship between exposure and reproductive effects and a probable human carcinogen (EPA.gov). Research on DDT also demonstrated persistence in remaining in the environment, accumulation in fatty tissues, and travel long distances in the upper atmosphere (EPA.gov).
The issue of DDT and mosquito devastation is a no-win situation. The long-term damage of DDT is extremely harmful and because of extended use, is less effective on mosquitos. One has to determine if the increase risk of cancer and reproductive issues is worth the costs of lives lost due to malaria. Currently, no immunization exists for malaria, which leaves 2,700 adults and children dying each day because the United States decided it needed banning due to health and environmental concerns (Hiserodt & Terrell). DDT has more of a life-saving property than it does negative consequence when you look at one million deaths a year with the majority of them children. The United States and European nations have decreased their risk, spread of malaria, and then banned the use of DDT.
One argument made by Alexander King a co-founder of a global think-tank dedicated to population reduction believed DDT caused a significant population increase around the world (Hiserodt & Terrell). ‘Every life saved this year in a poor country diminishes the quality of life for subsequent generations’ according to Malthusian Paul Ehrlich (Hiserodt & Terrell). His position was the DDT was exported death control and not using would continue to allow populations to rise (Hiserodt & Terrell). The use of DDT mortality rates decreased in underdeveloped countries but failed to consider the problem of supporting increase in the population (Hiserodt & Terrell). One must ask if that problem is really the health and environmental damages DDT causes. The problem may stem from social, political, economic, and racial/ethnic issues are the real reason for holding DDT from underdeveloped nations.
Until those issues are resolved, the decision will remain unresolved because the deaths reduce the population of nations where many fail to see any benefit from their people. Africa has been the focus of many articles and studies dealing with the problem of malaria deaths. The countries coming in to offer aid add to the conditions of aid DDT is not used. I agree that the resolution will not occur because the organizations that want to end the unnecessary deaths related to malaria go against those who want population control for whatever reason they hold dear. It does not matter if the reason is economic, political, or racial/ethnic, those against the DDT use appear to have more money and power to control the outcome. When the power shifts to where human life is more important than money, political advantages, control and influence over lesser-developed nations, then the DDT dilemma will solve itself by allowing its global use.