An in­ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion to the malaria prob­lem

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Joseph Farah

The next great glob­al­ist scam to steal your money and make you feel good about it has to do with fight­ing malaria in Africa. Pres­i­dent Bush is part of the plot — as are Paul Wol­fowitz, pres­i­dent of the World Bank, Melinda Gates, co-chair­woman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, Dr. Steven Phillips, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of Exxon Mo­bil Corp., Ann Ven­e­man, head of UNICEF, and my old buddy Rick War­ren, pas­tor of the Sad­dle­back Church.

First of all, on two things we all agree: Africa has a se­ri­ous malaria prob­lem, and malaria can be beaten. Ev­ery minute, two African chil­dren die of the mos­quito-borne plague. It doesn’t have to be this way.

“It is pos­si­ble to elim­i­nate malaria,” Mr. Bush said at the White House Sum­mit on Malaria. “We know ex­actly what it will take to pre­vent and treat the dis­ease [. . .] It is not go­ing to re­quire a mir­a­cle. It re­quires smart, sus­tained ef­fort.”

Again, I agree. But the approach be­ing adopted to de­feat malaria is not smart, not cost-ef­fec­tive and not strong enough.

While Mr. Bush has al­ready spent $1.2 bil­lion in tax­payer dol­lars on his ill-con­ceived scheme, he knows it’s not enough. In fact, with his approach, there will never be enough money spent to elim­i­nate the dis­ease. So he’s com­ing back for more in a mas­sive pub­lic re­la­tions blitz called “Malaria No More.”

Over the next few years, while African chil­dren con­tinue to die by the minute, you will be asked, ca­joled and brow­beaten into vol­un­tar­ily con­tribut­ing more of your hard-earned cash to an­other war that will never be won.

Specif­i­cally, what you will be asked to do is to buy a $10 bed net treated with in­sec­ti­cide to pre­vent mos­qui­toes from bit­ing some poor African at night. That’s the plan, baby. That’s the whole pro­gram.

By the way, the $10 nets only cost about $5. So what’s the rest of the dough for? Your guess is as good as mine.

Now, there are a few ob­vi­ous prob­lems with this cam­paign:

● Just buy­ing Africans nets doesn’t en­sure they will be used.

● Mos­qui­toes bite while peo­ple are awake and ac­tive, not just when they are asleep.

● Re­ly­ing on bed nets to stop malaria is like re­ly­ing on con­doms to pre­vent AIDS.

● There are more cost-ef­fec­tive ways to keep peo­ple from be­ing bit­ten by malaria-car­ry­ing mos- quitoes — killing the bugs and their lar­vae. So, what’s the bet­ter so­lu­tion? You’re not go­ing to like hear­ing this. The an­swer is three let­ters that have been de­mo­nized by the same kind of do-good­ers who want to buy ev­ery African a bed net. It’s called DDT. The very name of this pes­ti­cide con­jures fears among peo­ple too young to re­mem­ber ex­actly what a mir­a­cle won­der this pes­ti­cide was through the 1960s.

Up un­til the 1960s, malaria was per­haps the big­gest killer in the world. Tens of mil­lions of peo­ple would die ev­ery year.

What hap­pened? The dis­ease was vir­tu­ally wiped out in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. How?

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol, credit goes to the drain­ing of vast wet­land ar­eas, usu­ally to make room for hous­ing de­vel­op­ments, and ex­ten­sive DDT spray­ing.

But malaria is in­deed rear­ing its ugly head again around the world. Mil­lions are dy­ing be­cause of the bans and re­stric­tions placed on the pro­duc­tion and use of DDT.

You want to con­quer malaria? Don’t fight with one hand tied be­hind your back. Nuke the suck­ers that cause it with DDT. It ac­tu­ally works and costs less than hun­dreds of mil­lions of bed nets. DDT is one of the great­est chem­i­cal ac­com­plish­ments in the his- tory of mankind.

You’ve been con­di­tioned to think of DDT as an ab­hor­rent toxic agent that caused can­cer and nearly wiped out the bald ea­gle. Non­sense. Junk science. Hys­te­ria.

DDT saved lives and re­duced hu­man suf­fer­ing. It could do so again, if only peo­ple would wake up and stop be­liev­ing pro­pa­ganda spoon-fed to them by those whose only goal must be to re­duce the world’s hu­man pop­u­la­tion by any means nec­es­sary.

Here’s what the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences had to say about the chem­i­cal as late as 1970: “To only a few chem­i­cals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT [. . .] In a lit­tle more than two decades, DDT has pre­vented 500 mil­lion hu­man deaths, due to malaria, that oth­er­wise would have been in­evitable.”

What about can­cer? I knew one of the sci­en­tists re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing DDT. His name was Dr. Joseph Ja­cobs. Late in his 80s, he told me sto­ries about fall­ing into a vat of DDT and emerg­ing un­scathed.

The truth is that pop­u­la­tion-con­trol ad­vo­cates de­cided in the late 1960s that over­pop­u­la­tion must be pre­vented. The best way, they de­ter­mined, was to let chil­dren in poor na­tions die of malaria by the mil­lions.

Ex­ten­sive hear­ings were held on DDT be­fore an En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency ad­min­is­tra­tive law judge, Ed­mund Sweeney, who con­cluded in 1972, “DDT is not a car­cino­genic haz­ard to man [. . .] DDT is not a mu­ta­genic or ter­ato­genic haz­ard to man [. . .] the uses of DDT un­der the reg­u­la­tions in­volved here do not have a dele­te­ri­ous ef­fect on fresh­wa­ter fish, es­tu­ar­ine or­gan­isms, wild birds or other wildlife.”

But the EPA hear­ing ex­am­iner was over­ruled by EPA ad­min­is­tra­tor William Ruck­elshaus — a lawyer and politi­cian, not a sci­en­tist. He re­port­edly did not at­tend a sin­gle hour of the seven months of hear­ings, nor did he read any of the tran­scripts, ac­cord­ing to aides.

The latest sci­en­tific study on DDT, pub­lished in 1985, found no cor­re­la­tion be­tween DDT and can­cer. A 1972 study ac­tu­ally found it re­duced tu­mors in an­i­mals.

I don’t ex­pect Mr. Bush to read this col­umn and have an epiphany. But I thought you would like to know the truth about malaria and DDT. Be­cause any day now some­one will come knock­ing on your door ask­ing you to buy a bed net for an African child.

While I know this is the feel-good sea­son and ev­ery­one wants to be­lieve they can help solve ev­ery prob­lem in the world, save your money. This is not the so­lu­tion. This is part of the prob­lem.

Joseph Farah is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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