"We must take a position based on the science and the data," said Dr. Arata Kochi, the WHO's malaria chief. "One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual house spraying. Of the dozen insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT." "It's a big change," said biologist Amir Attaran of Canada's University of Ottawa, who has long pushed for the guidelines and described a recent draft. "There has been a lot of resistance to using insecticides to control malaria, and one insecticide especially. … That will have to be re-evaluated by a lot of people."
That's putting it mildly. Malaria is one of the most serious obstacles to development in the Third World, and DDT is the most effective method of fighting it. In fact, the use of DDT has eradicated malaria in parts of the developed world like Singapore where it was once endemic. Unfortunately, ill-informed political opposition to DDT has prevented its use in the developing world, and has resulted in the deaths of millions of people and the consignment of millions of others to a life of misery. This short-sighted attitude continues in spite of the WHO's recommendation:
While some well-known environmental groups have signed on to WHO's decision, it has generated some concern from groups like the Pesticide Action Network, which says there are questions about its effects on developing children.I would hazard a guess that it's also pretty hard for children to develop when they're dying of malaria. Somewhere Rachel Carson is turning over in her grave.