Cover Story

Kill or be killed

"Kill or be killed" Continued...

Issue: "Malaria: Kill or be killed," Oct. 29, 2005

Mr. Bate's testimony had little effect, so last month he-along with Mr. Driessen and four other policy wonks-started doing something more than writing journal articles: They waded into Capitol Hill's political pond and started lobbying strategic Capitol Hill staffers and lawmakers, specifically targeting top members of the Senate and House appropriations committees.

The biggest challenge, Mr. Driessen said, is explaining the basics. He said many staffers ask, "'You mean there's still malaria out in the world?' . . . They think it's maybe a few thousand cases. When I tell them it's more than the combined population of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, their teeth just drop around their ankles."

Mr. Bate and others also note that countries in Africa adopting indoor spraying are already seeing a decline in malarial infections. In Zambia, areas where DDT is used have seen a 75 percent drop in cases and deaths over two years. Health officials hope to expand the spraying program from eight to 15 districts: Naawa Sipilanyambe, coordinator for Zambia's malaria program, forecasts that "in the next two to three years, incidence will reach to almost half in this country." With fewer cases, less money will have to be spent on expensive life-saving medicines.

The nouveau lobbyists are backed up by the "Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now" declaration (read the full report), which responds to residual concerns about DDT's environmental effects by calling for its use only for indoor spraying and not for aerial or any other form of outdoor application. But that's the only proposed compromise: The declaration insists, "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."

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