Say DDT in a sentence and many U.S. residents think of environmental injury, but this week the World Health Organization is promoting the use of the much-maligned insecticide. The group is recommending use of DDT in a controlled, indoor spraying program to kill mosquitoes that spread malaria.
WHO notes malaria has killed more than 1 million people, mostly children, in Africa alone. Using the insecticide in a room or hut works like a mosquito net (a common control method recommended by many groups today), but is more effective over long periods.
Officials note that extensive research and testing has demonstrated that well-managed indoor residual spraying programs using DDT pose no harm to wildlife or to humans. India has been able to use DDT effectively to dramatically cut the number of malaria cases and fatalities.
WHO announced the new policy over the weekend and says it would recommend the indoor residual spraying to cut the number of infections in areas with constant, and high, malaria transmission.