Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Peace = lower malaria rates?

Peace in Cote d’Ivoire does not bring down malaria rates, says IRIN.

Statistics galore: At least 6-out-of-10 clinic treatments are for malaria, the story points out, and 20 percent of pregnant women have the mosquito-born disease, leading to low birth weights. Historical numbers were not available.

The question remains: Why do people get malaria in the first place? Never mind the how, we’ve covered that part here. We need to investigate the social aspects of the disease, and a post on Yahoo Answers (I couldn’t find anything better) claims that malaria thrives where people live in close quarters, in wet, “dirty places” (not my term) where mosquitoes thrive. Oftentimes these people lack the money – and/or will – to clean up the mosquito zone.

A different take. Environmentalists and international development agencies like USAID and the World Health Program have guilted African countries away from using DDT or other pesticides which will go after the mosquitoes that carry the disease, argues Paul Driessen in Spiked Online. Driessen, the author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death, claims that the most effective way to kill the mosquitoes in peoples’ homes (or at least where they sleep) is the combination of spraying DDT and using bed nets and screens, when necessary.

Yet, in a Reuters blog on the issue (which I must give a hat tip for the Driessen piece), a certain Ed Darnell contends DDT is an overrated (and dangerous) method of reducing mosquitoes in homes. A better solution would be better medical systems and education (and money) to drain those mosquito breeding areas.

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