June 15, 2006

S.Africa says DDT helping to slash malaria rate

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa's use of controversial
pesticide DDT has helped it achieve a huge reduction in malaria
cases over the past five years, the health minister said on

DDT is effective in killing malaria-spreading mosquitoes
but is blamed for deaths, cancer and birth defects and is
outlawed by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic
Pollutants, except when used for disease control.

South Africa stopped using the insecticide in 1996 due to
international pressure but re-introduced it four years later
after other insecticides were found to be less effective due to
drug resistance.

"This change in insecticide was one of the main
contributing factors to the decline in malaria cases in the
past five years in South Africa," Health Minister Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang said in written reply to a parliamentary

"South Africa has reduced malaria morbidity and mortality
by approximately 88 percent and 86 percent, respectively,
compared to the year 2000," she said.

Official data shows the country had 7,754 reported cases of
malaria and 64 deaths from the disease in 2005 compared to
64,622 cases and 438 deaths in 2000.

Malaria, a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is
one of the biggest killers in sub-Saharan Africa, with the vast
majority of the one million, mostly children, it kills a year
living in that region.

Tshabalala-Msimang said South Africa was aware of the
controversy around the use of DDT for malaria control and
invested heavily in training staff to safely use the chemical.

"For this reason DDT is used judiciously strictly for
public health reasons and its application is on the inside
walls of houses and under the eaves of mud structures," she