Bishop Tutu Joins Call to Fight Malaria with DDT

Published December 1, 2005

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, whose concern for human rights has inspired people around the world, has joined more than 100 prominent scientists and human rights advocates signing a petition urging the use of DDT to stop an African holocaust of malaria deaths.
The petition–Kill Malarial Mosquitoes NOW!–observes that malaria afflicts more than 500 million people–more than the combined populations of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The petition, which was made public in mid-October, demands that at least two-thirds of anti-malaria spending by the United States and other governments be used for the purchase and application of such proven products as DDT and advanced therapy drugs.
According to the petition, almost none of the $200 million U.S. taxpayers pay each year for worldwide malaria control efforts is actually spent to kill or repel malarial mosquitoes. Some government authorities also oppose the use of advanced therapy drugs for treating malaria victims. Instead, much of the money is spent on conferences and consultants, with most of that money being spent in the United States.
The petition, together with a list of the many prominent signatories, can be found online at The petition is reprinted here.

Kill Malarial Mosquitoes NOW!

We, the undersigned, are justifiably concerned, anguished, and outraged that:

  • Over 500 million human beings suffer from malaria in Africa and around the world. … This is more people than live in the United States, Canada, and Mexico combined.
  • Well over a million of these people–mostly children and pregnant women–are killed by malaria each and every year.
  • Malaria wreaks an enormous economic toll, incapacitating otherwise productive people, leaving thousands with brain damage, and keeping millions at home to care for the sick instead of producing goods and services to lift Africa and other regions out of unacceptable, abject poverty.
  • The United States, Europe and other advanced economies have failed to use every available means to stop the devastation that malarial mosquitoes inflict upon the world’s poorest citizens. They are the same methods we used to eradicate malaria in our countries. Yet, we have mindlessly withheld them from other people for over 30 years to tragic, almost genocidal effect.
  • Almost none of the $200 million that U.S. taxpayers contribute to world malaria control each year is actually spent to kill or repel the deadly mosquitoes that inject parasites into the bloodstreams of their victims. These shortsighted policies fail to recognize that spraying small amounts of DDT on the interior walls of homes can effectively kill or repel malarial mosquitoes, giving long-lasting protection to the families within.
  • Amazingly, some in government even oppose using malaria control monies to kill the parasite that malarial mosquitoes transmit from person to person! These individuals would block or limit funding for the purchase of medicines such as artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), which cure malaria and inhibit its spread wherever they are used.
  • DDT as yet plays no part in the program announced by President Bush in July 2005, to spend an additional $1.2 billion on malaria control over the next five years. Without DDT and ACTs, this spending will be needlessly wasted, along with millions of lives.

We understand the facts about DDT and its historic opponents. We now seek humane, heroic action by U.S. leaders to alter the ugly course of human history with regard to malaria.

Our objective: To end malaria’s worldwide reign of terror.

We want to slash disease and death tolls in Africa and worldwide, by changing the way the U.S. government funds malaria control. We want cost-effective measures that actually kill and repel malarial mosquitoes, eliminate parasites, cure malaria patients, and save lives.

We therefore ask Congress and the President to:

  • Ensure that at least 2/3 (two-thirds) of annual Congressional appropriations for malaria control are earmarked for insecticidal and medicinal commodities, with up to half of such monies targeted to the treatment and cure of infected patients.
  • Specifically direct such funds to the actual purchase and deployment of: (1) DDT, or any other proven, more cost-effective insecticide/repellant, for Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) in any given malarial locality; and (2) ACTs, or other equally effective and durable drugs, for treatment of malaria patients and reduction in transmission rates.
  • Require that this 2/3 formula be mirrored in the annual malaria control spending by any agency receiving U.S. malaria control monies, such as U.S. Agency for International Development, World Health Organization, World Bank, UNICEF, and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis.
  • Direct that this 2/3 proportion will be subject to reduction ONLY if replaced by corresponding expenditures for any malaria control measure (such as larvaciding) that has been proven equally or more cost-effective in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality rates in specific localities as certified, in advance of such expenditure and replacement, by the directors of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, or similar independent agency, based on controlled epidemiological studies in the field.

In full accord with the U.N. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, this objective contemplates DDT use only for indoor residual spraying (which results in zero-to-negligible external environmental residue) and not for aerial or any other form of outdoor application. It does not contemplate the use of insecticides, including insecticide-treated mosquito nets, not shown to be more cost-effective than indoor residual spraying with DDT for all members of affected populations.

In the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary, we the undersigned regard as inadequate and therefore morally unacceptable any policy that permits any sum in excess of one-third of U.S. anti-malaria funding to be expended on contractors, “technical assistance,” conferences, “capacity building,” overhead, bed nets, or similar measures, rather than the proven insecticidal and medical interventions described above.

Bureaucrats, contractors, academics, insecticide companies, anti-pesticide activists, and other self-interested parties have frequently protested that DDT for indoor residual spraying is no panacea and falsely claimed that alternative methods work equally well in controlling malaria. However, the fact is, nothing in the history of man has proven more effective than the combination of insecticides such as DDT and effective medicines like ACTs for saving human lives from the scourge of malaria.

DDT enabled the United States, Europe and most advanced economies to eradicate malaria. It must now be permitted and encouraged to start saving lives in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and other parts of the world where malarial mosquitoes continue to kill thousands of innocent children and parents every day. Because:

  • allocation decisions on U.S. appropriations for malaria control must be made by Congress and the White House within weeks;
  • the U.S. foreign aid and multilateral aid bureaucracies have proven themselves incompetent and unwilling over many years to make effective commodity purchases and allocation decisions;
  • most of the world, including the World Health Organization, has endorsed DDT for indoor residual spraying through the U.N. Stockholm Convention; and
  • Americans and most of the world embrace life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as fundamental Human Rights and yet the effect of current malaria policies is to deny those Human Rights to billions of the world’s poorest people;

Now, therefore, we the undersigned Coalition of the Informed and Concerned hold that the burden of scientific and moral proof rests with any who would argue that more than one-third of U.S. and world malaria control spending should support measures other than DDT for indoor residual spraying and ACTs (or any other proven, more cost-effective interventions) for combating this horrific disease.

If and when the opponents of DDT and ACTs can show and obtain certification as provided above that something else works better to save human lives from malaria, we the undersigned will readily–even eagerly–accede to something less than this two-thirds formula.

Until then, however, we will fight furiously for every human life now hanging in the balance, as a function of current, myopic, errant, and unconscionable U.S. malaria control policies.

We urge all people of conscience, moral conviction, and human decency to join us in ending malaria’s reign of terror in Africa and the developing world. We hereby implore Congress and the President to stop the misguided malaria spending, stop the talking, and finally take real action to kill malarial mosquitoes NOW!

For more information …

More information on malaria and DDT is available through PolicyBot™, The Heartland Institute’s free online research database. Point your Web browser to, click on the PolicyBot™ button, and search for the keyword “malaria.”