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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
WEBCommentary Contributor
Author:  Paul Driessen
Bio: Paul Driessen
Date:  May 10, 2006
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Topic category:  Other/General

Fasting Against Malaria

In 2005, 20,600 children in New York City were stricken by malaria, a readily preventable disease that is spread by mosquitoes. More than 80 died, as environmentalists opposed the use of chemicals to control the killer insects, and healthcare officials caved in to their demands.

In 2005, 20,600 children in New York City were stricken by malaria, a readily preventable disease that is spread by mosquitoes. More than 80 died, as environmentalists opposed the use of chemicals to control the killer insects, and healthcare officials caved in to their demands.

This didn’t really happen. If it had, American parents would have been in the streets, courtrooms, legislative chambers and health agency offices – demanding that every weapon known to man be employed to end the epidemic, immediately.

Instead, something far worse happened last year – and in 2004, 2003 and for decades before that. Nearly 250 MILLION children were infected each year by malarial mosquitoes. A million died, the vast majority of them Africans under age five, every single year. In Uganda, the annual death toll is 30,000 children; in Kenya, 20,000; in Democratic Republic of Congo, an incredible 225,000. Equal numbers of adults died.

No one took to the streets. Instead, environmentalists, the European Union and even world healthcare agencies refused to countenance the use of insecticides, and promoted completely inadequate programs to provide bednets, drugs that often didn’t work, educational brochures, conferences and condolences. Only a few people spoke out, as the death toll mounted.

Then, near the end of last year, things began to change. In response to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Congress of Racial Equality chairman Roy Innis, and hundreds of clergy, physicians and human rights advocates in the Kill Malarial Mosquitoes NOW coalition, the U.S. Agency for International Development reversed its longstanding policies and began using DDT for indoor residual spraying.

This unfairly maligned chemical does what no other chemical in existence can do: a single spraying every six months on the inside walls of homes keeps 90% of mosquitoes from even entering homes. It irritates any that do come in, so they rarely bite; and it kills those that land. In African communities where it’s been used, malaria rates have been slashed by 50-75% in less than two years. Moreover, the health and environmental risks from using DDT this way are virtually zero.

Congress endorsed DDT for indoor spraying. President Bush’s Malaria Initiative focused more money and attention on the killer disease. Other agencies began to take note, and consider changing their anti-insecticides policies. And investment advisor Lance Laifer launched the Hedge Funds v. Malaria initiative, to raise money for long-lasting insecticide-treated nets.

Thursday, May 11, is International Fast Against Malaria Day – another Laifer brainstorm. Its concept is simple. Fast from 9am to 6pm, talk to friends and family members to raise awareness about malaria, and make a donation to buy a net.

Visit … create a support page or donate through an existing page … and give as little as $5 to buy a bednet and help save a child’s life. It’s tax-deductible – and equivalent to buying a beer at a bar, a combo meal at McDonald’s or a coffee at Starbucks.

People forget that malaria was a big killer in the United States for centuries – all across our southern states, as far north as New York and New Jersey, west to the Mississippi, and even in California and Alaska. Until the 1930s, it killed thousands of Americans every year. Most of Europe was also at risk.

The US and Europe finally eradicated it in the early 1950s – using DDT. But malaria still infects and kills countless people in Africa, Asia and Latin America every year. A Ugandan friend of mine lost her son, two sisters, three nephews and 50 of the 500 children who only a year ago had been attending a school she sponsors near Kampala. Millions of other families also lost children, parents, siblings and friends.

I believe strongly in the importance of DDT and other insecticides in battling malaria. However, I also believe we need the most comprehensive programs possible, to address this intolerable crisis from every possible angle.

That’s why I also support the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, and efforts to get them to as many children and families as possible. They’re no silver bullet. But neither is DDT or any other single weapon. We need them all in our arsenal, so that health ministers can choose whichever ones are most appropriate in any given case.

So visit Lance’s webpage – or go to Africa Fighting Malaria president Roger Bate’s webpage – and make a donation. That’s what I did. It’s quick, easy and secure.

As Lance says, “Sometimes we forget that being born into poverty is not a choice. Please help those who can’t help themselves.”

During the few minutes it took you to read this article, six children died from malaria. Please help us say, Enough! During the next few minutes, you can join the fast. Buy a net. Support malaria awareness and insecticides – including DDT. And save a life!

Millions of children – and parents – will thank you.

Paul Driessen

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Biography - Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( He received his J.D. from the University of Denver College of Law.

Read other commentaries by Paul Driessen.

Visit Paul Driessen's website at Eco-Imperialism

Copyright © 2006 by Paul Driessen
All Rights Reserved.

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