The Real Tragedy in the Fight Against Malaria


One of the world’s most dreadful diseases of all time has been and still is malaria. In fact, one could consider it the single biggest killer of human beings through history. It has killed untold millions of people over centuries, especially in more tropical countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas. In general, it attacks and kills more children than adults but it has in some countries devastating effects since one easily suffers periods of relapse when the disease re-occurs among adult populations. The concerns of many governments, organizations and individuals today is over the fact that malaria has been on the increase again in recent years, especially in sub-Saharan countries in Africa. It reportedly kills over one million victims per year, mostly children.

While one has to applaud those who focus on this disease and their attempts to diminish if not eradicate this scourge, it is sad to know that between 35 to 50 years ago, malaria was nearly wiped out or at least in such a drastic decline that it did not represent the threat it is today. The compound that managed to achieve these incredible results was ‘dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane – better known by its acronym – DDT.

In 1939, chemist Paul Mueller working for a Swiss company developed DDT by combining chlorals with hydrocarbons and phenols that was cheap, easy to produce and use, nontoxic to mammals and plants, but extremely toxic on contact to insects and other arthropods (Hogan book ‘Kicking the sacred Cow’, page 264). It was first effectively used by the Allies in and after World War II as it was 100 percent effective as a fumigant against the ticks and body lice that transmitted typhus which in World War I had killed millions of soldiers and civilians. The application of DDT in the fight against malaria brought incredible results in subsequent years and DDT was generally hailed as extremely valuable to mankind all over the planet. The number of malaria cases and related illnesses in all countries afflicted in prior years dropped so significantly, that it was called miraculous. As one example, we cite that
Pakistan reported 7 million cases of malaria in 1961, which after the introduction of an aggressive DDT spraying program was reduced to just 9500 by the year 1967. Other countries experienced similar results.

Enter the Environmentalists

In 1962, a naturalist and writer Rachel Carson published a book called ‘Silent Spring’. It was an eloquent and passionate indictment of DDT as its application was considered a reckless chemical assault against nature. Carson writes in her book that in some places in Middle America birds were disappearing. Experts in the field of biology and entomology read her book and began to question her motives since her statements were not borne out by facts. It seemed that she had an agenda that had nothing to do with reality. Others got involved and the movement to attack DDT became an organized effort by environmentalists. Reportedly, DDT was being blamed for severely reducing the Bald Eagle populations in several states, killing plants and trees and last but not least, DDT also caused cancer. It took many years but eventually they won and DDT was banned altogether, first in America and later on all over the world by compelling advocacy from among others the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Bald Eagle eradication from DDT was a total lie as reported in a detailed article by Steven Milloy as were other accusations made against DDT. But the really interesting development in recent months is a publication by the World Health Organization  WHO gives indoor use of DDT a clean bill of health for controlling malaria. The article declares that the WHO has reversed a nearly 30 year ban on the use of DDT and now recommends its application for indoor spraying to control malaria transmission, including throughout Africa. This position is supposedly based on science and data. The same publication concludes “that each year, more than 500 million people suffer from acute malaria, resulting in more than one million deaths. At least 86 percent of these deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally an estimated 3000 children and infants die from malaria every day and 10,000 pregnant women die from malaria in Africa every year.”

Well, how about that? Is the term ‘Junk Science’ becoming a little easier to understand? One has to wonder how environmentalists feel after reading this. As it turns out, the fight against DDT was truly a hysteria driven power play with no true scientific facts as foundation. From the beginning, the book by Rachel Carson clearly misrepresented as reality her opinions about DDT to advance an anti-pesticide agenda and she is still being hailed as a heroine among the environmentalists in America. In fact, she has received honors such as a 1981 U.S. postage stamp and has buildings and bridges and even a state park in Pennsylvania named after her.

Why the Delay?

As for the WHO, why did it take so long to come out with this announcement this past September? The scientific facts about DDT were fully known and available to all in the 1960’s, nothing new has really been discovered since then. Did the recurring malaria epidemic bring some common sense to the WHO or could they simply no longer support their utterly ridiculous arguments against the use of DDT? One can say, better late then never but it does not absolve the WHO from sharing a major portion of responsibility for this gigantic tragedy in human lives lost. How many millions of lives have been lost in Africa and other countries through the ban of DDT, not to mention the incredible suffering by millions of others due to these diseases from which they could have been protected had this unnecessary interference by certain interest groups pushing their agenda not happened?

We here at ‘Back to Common Sense’ use logic, reasoning and yes, common sense, when analyzing the facts surrounding such issues.  It is time that others’ did this as well, particularly when so many lives are at stake. 

This article and others on Back to Common Sense are designed to provoke further thought and investigation.   It is not the intent for the articles to be politically biased. Sources are referenced in each article to encourage readers to delve into the supporting material.  We welcome all readers to participate with their point of view either in support or contrary with additional information sources.


2 Responses to The Real Tragedy in the Fight Against Malaria

  1. Dave Szatkowski says:

    I believe that global hysteria about DDT is very similar to the reactions we are seeing to the Global Warming theory. If we react to Global Warming in a similar, irrational manner, the consequences will be dire for our economy.

  2. […] debate from all sides on this as on any other topic? Has the media not learned anything from the false accusations made some years ago against DDT? They supported its ban only to see a reversal after untold […]

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