Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Give Africans DDT

Africans beg the West for the means to save their own lives.

Call it colonial paternalism, or something. But the western world's denial of DDT to Africans is killing them.

KAMPALA, Uganda -- Though Africa's sad experience with colonialism ended in the 1960s, a lethal vestige remains: malaria. It is the biggest killer of Ugandan and all African children. Yet it remains preventable and curable. Last week in Germany, G-8 leaders committed new resources to the fight against the mosquito-borne disease and promised to use every available tool.

Now they must honor this promise by supporting African independence in the realm of disease control. We must be able to use Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane -- DDT.

The United States and Europe eradicated malaria by 1960, largely with the use of DDT. At the time, Uganda tested the pesticide in the Kanungu district and reduced malaria by 98%. Despite this success, we lacked the resources to sustain the program. Rather than partner with us to improve our public health infrastructure, however, foreign donors blanched. They used Africa's lack of infrastructure to justify not investing in it.

Today, every single Ugandan still remains at risk. Over 10 million Ugandans are infected each year, and up to 100,000 of our mothers and children die from the disease. Recently Ugandan country music star Job Paul Kafeero died of the disease, a reminder that no one is beyond its reach. Yet, many still argue that Africa's poor infrastructure makes indoor spraying too costly and complex a means of fighting malaria.

Al Gore et al, who are you to tell Africans that they must die to serve your pagan gods?

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