Using DDT for indoor mosquito control Amadou Sowe - Manager, Health Education Programme, The Gambia Summary The chemical DDT has been banned for use as an agricultural pesticide under an
international agreement, the Stockholm Convention, as DDT can have long term impacts on
the environment. However, use of DDT to kil malaria‐carrying mosquitoes is stil allowed,
and in The Gambia the government has been implementing a campaign to spray DDT on the
Suggested introduction Every year, as many as a mil ion people die of malaria. Ninety per cent of these are in sub-
Saharan Africa and most are small children. Reducing the number of deaths to malaria is
therefore a high priority for national governments, but how can it be achieved?
In The Gambia, the government has a campaign to spray the walls and ceilings of people’s
homes with the pesticide called DDT. This technique, called Indoor Residual Spraying, is
controversial, because DDT is known to cause human health problems, including cancer and
male infertility. However, while DDT has been banned for use in agriculture by the
internationally recognised Stockholm Convention because of its potential harm to human
and wildlife health, use to control malarial mosquitoes is stil permitted.
Amadou Sowe is the manager of The Gambia’s Health Education Programme. Ismaila
Senghore meets him to find out more about the campaign.
“Mosquitoes are all over the country …
Suggested closing announcement Ismaila Senghore reporting from Banjul in The Gambia.
For further information DDT - Making the most of this interview. . What approaches are being taken to malaria control in your country? Which approaches Using DDT for indoor mosquito control Amadou Sowe - Manager, Health Education Programme, The Gambia Transcript Sowe
Mosquitoes are all over the country. Malaria is a problem not only in The
Gambia but in the world, it is general. And we want to reach the stage where
we eradicate malaria. Because of that, we are doing everything possible at
Senghore And what would you say is the rationale for you to go nationwide spraying households to control mosquitoes, using nothing else but DDT? Why do you think you had to use DDT, are there any other alternatives?
Yes, why we are using DDT. If you look at the world, some parts of the world
did use DDT some time ago in eradicating malaria. In those areas they have
seen DDT was one of the best things they have done, at least to eradicate
malaria. That is why in The Gambia also we resort to using DDT. It is not only
DDT that has been used. We have been using Permethrin, we have been
using other things to dip our nets, and there are some other larvacides, some
other chemicals we use to kil the larvae. But for the adult mosquito, in terms
of indoor residual spraying, it is only DDT that has been recommended in The
Gambia so far, to be used to control or eradicate the mosquitoes that cause
malaria. And since we started the spraying of this DDT into our sprayable
houses, the vector, which is the Anopheles mosquito, has reduced in most of
these areas where we conducted the spraying.
Senghore What are the indicators that you tell you that definitely there has been a drop
The spraying just ended about three weeks ago; there is not yet a study
conducted on that. But by seeing records, going through the records, the
clinical records in our health facilities, and comparing in the past years the
number of malaria cases being seen at this time of the year, we have seen
that it has really dropped. So due to that we can attribute it to what we have
done, combined with other interventions.
Senghore Now how far would you say this programme was appealing to people, like DDT is a repellent which is sometimes not very comfortable to stay with in a
Yes, it is not comfortable to stay with in a room, especially if it is not properly
done. But this time round people were trained, people were trained and the
right concentration had to be done. We asked people not to stay indoors
during spraying, and to be outside for a certain period before coming into their
houses. Where you have food stored, also we don’t spray stores, we don’t
spray where food is being prepared, but we spray only houses where people
sleep, and everything that may be contaminated has to be removed from the
house. Yes, it is not pleasant to stay immediately after spraying, but after
some time you can stay and it is safe for the individual to stay. And since
then, up to now, so far we didn’t have any complaint of any side effects from
anybody. There is no query as of now. We are stil monitoring the situation
what would be the outcome. In terms of response, yes, people really
responded well, and there were a lot of volunteers. Because we needed a lot
of manpower, even farmers joined the spraying.
Senghore Now Mr Sowe, we know that DDT is a persistent organic pollutant with long term negative impacts on our health. As a matter of fact it is one of those major substances prohibited by the Stockholm Convention. Now is it not a problem to contravene a convention to which we are a signatory?
As of now I don’t think we are contravening, because if you look at DDT, yes
the Stockholm Convention banned the use of DDT, but now, recently,
countries have been allowed to use DDT going by certain rules and
regulations. If you follow strictly the rules and regulations you can use DDT,
and The Gambia followed the recommended rules and regulations in order to
apply DDT, and we didn’t do it alone. There are other experts also who were
part of the whole process, to see to it that proper care is being taken, proper
dilutions have been done, proper way of spraying has been done. And also
proper disposal had to also be done, in order to dispose of the empty cans or
Senghore Well thank you very much Mr Sowe. Now finally, would you recommend the continuation of indoor spraying of houses using DDT to control the malaria
Personally yes, if you look at DDT, even countries where it has been done, it
is recommended at least twice in a year, to spray all sprayable premises twice
in a year. By that then you are reducing or you are kil ing the malaria vectors,
that is the Anopheles mosquito. So personally yes, I would recommend other
rounds to be done, because for it to be effective you have to be doing it every
year for some time, and certain countries they did it for about three years in
order to eradicate the malaria mosquito. So doing it only once may not solve
Senghore Thank you very much. That was Mr Amadou Sowe, manager of the Health Education Programme of The Gambia. It has been a pleasure talking to you.
Thank you very much. End of track.
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