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    Mesoamerica Shows the Way to DDT-Free Malaria Control

    By Keith R | May 7, 2009

    Topics: Hazardous Substances, Health Issues | No Comments »

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    The World Health Organization (WHO) has confidently announced that they can still roll back malaria worldwide while phasing out the use of the hazardous pesticide Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) through the use of pesticide-free Integrated Vector Management (IVM) techniques.  Why is WHO so confident it can be done?  Because they have already successfully tested the proposition through a pilot program in Mexico and Central America.

    From a WHO synopsis of the project:

    The first of the demonstration projects, which began in 2003, has been coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization of the WHO in partnership with a wide range of bodies including UNEP, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, and the eight country governments.

    It has involved the Ministries of Health of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama where DDT has been extensively sprayed in homes and onto water bodies in the region order to combat malaria since the 1950s.

    More than 89 million people in Mesoamerica live in areas suitable for malaria transmission of which over a third or 23.5 million live in highly endemic areas.

    The work, involving just under $7.5 million from the GEF and co-financing of $6.4 million, has pioneered the demonstration of “integrated vector control” methods working with 202 communities of 50 municipalities in the eight countries.

    The work covered close to 160 000 people directly and an estimated 6.8 million indirectly representing nearly 30 per cent of those in the highly effected areas.

    Various malaria control strategies and techniques have been tried and evaluated including:

    The project achieved a 63 per cent reduction in malaria cases and a more than 86 per cent cut in ones linked with Plasmodium falciparum, the malarial parasite that causes the most severe kind of infection and the highest death rate globally.

    The researchers point to other benefits including the strengthening of national and local institutions involved in combating malaria; improved scientific data on DDT contamination of communities and action on stockpiles of persistent organic pollutants.

    During the project more than 136 tons of DDT and over 64 tons of chemicals such as toxapehene and chlordane were pinpointed.

    These stockpiles are scheduled for export and destruction under a separated but related UNEP treaty, the Basel Convention on transboundary hazardous waste.

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