January 25, 2005

DDT Reconsidered

It's not a subject I know a whole lot about, but Asheesh Siddique has an interesting dissent from the growing Nick Kristof-inspired consensus that we should start spraying DDT all over the place to combat malaria. Asheesh cites this study on the adverse affects of pesticides, which seems convincing enough, though "may not be worth the risk" is the key hedge here. I do, however, like his alternative:
Kristof makes no mention in his op-ed about the main source of malarial mosquitoes: standing water. A really tough anti-malaria strategy in poor countries would actually focus on the problem of water quality management and reforming the often abominable (or non-existent) sewage systems and waste water treatment programs found throughout the underdeveloped world.
This seems like something we ought to do anyways, no? Perhaps a combination of selective DDT use and broader developmental goals? Anyways, I'm open to persuasion, though the case for DDT still sounds pretty powerful to me. Realistically, the World Bank, etc., isn't going to help create thousands of waste water treatment plants overnight, and in the meantime, a lot of lives need saving.
-- Brad Plumer 4:54 PM || ||