UN-Experts on DDT recommend stricter rules when DDT is used for malaria vector control. Their report published ahead of the 5th Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (COP-5, Geneva April 25-29, 2011), shows more and more concern about effects of DDT on human health as well as on the environment. Their report was released last week, showing that the international community might be moving towards new rules on the use of DDT.
In their report, the DDT Expert Group, a UN-commission mandated to work out new recommendations for the next Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention, recommends stricter rules to monitor and reduce exposure of people living in areas where DDT is used for spraying households as a means to reduce malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. The report arrives at these recommendations in view of the evidence on human health and the environmental hazards of DDT and cases of illegal use and trading of DDT in some countries.
Specifically, the DDT Expert Group recommends that countries should develop systems to monitor the exposure and effects on human health and the environment of the use of DDT in malaria vector control. Besides, a mechanism to routinely monitor the quality of insecticide-based vector control operations in line with WHO recommendations should be in place. They also advise that an impartial audit should be integrated in malaria vector control programmes to ensure that these rules are met.
DDT still is a widely employed pesticide used for malaria vector control, despite its risks to human health and the environment. National health authorities are allowed to use it against mosquitoes transmitting malaria as stated in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and under the supervision of the World Health Organization. Today, there are about 15 countries that either use DDT or wish to use it if deemed necessary – most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The international community, scientists, and civil society actors have long been pushing for tighter rules for the use of DDT. The recommendations of the group are an important step towards an effective, safe, and environmentally sound malaria vector control. The Parties to the Stockholm Convention need to endorse and implement these measures at COP-5 to be held in Geneva from April 25th till April 29th, 2011.
The DDT Expert Group met in Geneva from November 10th till November 12th, 2010. The group consists of delegates representing UN regions and experts nominated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention.
The full report of the expert group is available online at: