Africa Needs Public Works, Economic Development and DDT

Published June 13, 2007

Health Minister Sam Zaramba of Uganda makes a compelling case for former colonial (G-8) countries to allow the use of DDT to fight malaria in sub-Saharan Africa (“Give Us DDT,” June 12). African leaders continue to hope for relief from infectious disease by foreign charity and goodwill instead of seeking private-sector redevelopment as an option.

In June 2000, then-U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher testified before the U.S. House Committee on International Relations that malaria “can interfere with trade, agriculture, tourism, and foreign investment, and epidemic-related trade embargoes and restrictions on travel and immigration can cause friction with trading partners…” Malaria stifles economic development.

Satcher stated that the World Bank and WTO “have concluded that disease reduction efforts are a necessary part of global development strategies …” As of July 2005, Africa has a population of more than 887 million people with 36.2 percent living on less than $1.00 a day.

Satcher reminds us that “had malaria been eliminated 35 years ago, Africa’s current annual gross domestic product would be $400 billion rather than $300 billion, a loss that is nearly five times greater than all development aid provided to Africa last year [1999].”

Africa must rise to the challenge of economic development and self-sufficiency. If billions must be spent annually to stop malaria, that aid must be directed toward economic development and housing projects that employ indigenous people.

Tourism, trade, and private corporate investment will follow when Africa throws off the chains of dependence on G-8 for health care charity, and starts the new era of economic development and housing construction to raise the standard of living. The continent will then have the private resources to eliminate infectious diseases while guaranteeing foreign investors a return on their investment in an environmentally safe global market place.

Ralph W. Conner ([email protected]) is local legislation manager for The Heartland Institute.