A recent peer-reviewed scientific paper in Malaria Journal by Yukich, Lengeler, Tediosi, Brown, Mulligan, Chavasse, Stevens, Justino, Conteh, Maharaj, Erskine, Mueller, Wiseman, Ghebremeskel, Zerom, Goodman, McGuire, Urrutia, Sakho, Hanson and Sharp compared several large vector control programs to prevent malaria, including both insecticide-treated nets (ITN) and indoor residual spraying (IRS). The results:

Method cost per child death averted
Conventional ITNs $438-$2199
Long-lasting ITNs $502-$692
IRS $3933-$4357

Even using IRS, DDT was not the most cost effective insecticide, which was deltamethrin. Yukich et al conclude:

These findings confirm that large-scale delivery of ITNs and IRS in sub-Saharan Africa is feasible and highly cost-effective using a range of strategies. Delivery of LLINs through campaigns provides a highly cost-effective and achievable method for rapidly improving ITN coverage. However, many other options exist for ITN programming, some well suited to maintain coverage levels after campaigns. IRS, or a combination of ITNs and IRS, remain attractive and viable options in some settings. Given that sustainable high-level funding appears to be available in the long-term through new global financing mechanisms, every malaria endemic country should aim to upscale their vector control programmes as rapidly and sustainably as possible.

Despite this, Worldwrite, a Living Marxism front group is conducting a anti-ITN campaign. Their opposition to insecticide treated nets seems to be ideological. Ceri Dingle writes in Spiked:


Western, developed countries don’t have to do very much thanks to the bed-net campaigns: just spend a fiver on a net and you can possibly ‘save a poor person’.

Yes, Dingle is opposed to bednets because they are an inexpensive way to prevent malaria.

Under the bed-net initiatives, ‘preventing malaria’ means taking small, very low-tech steps which involve no development whatsoever, thus helping to maintain the status quo.

But the huge economic cost of malaria is a major factor in preventing development in Africa. If Worldwrite’s anti-ITN campaign is successful, not only will they kill African children, they will also hinder economic development there.

Written into the bed-net campaign is a deep hostility towards modern, chemicalised methods of destroying malaria.

Apparently Dingle thinks that they treat the nets with insecticide because of hostility to using chemicals.

The demon DDT, a non-herbal, non-traditional, Western invention, was used to great effect to wipe out malaria in the West, until it was banned on environmental grounds in 1972, despite court hearings which found it to be harmless.

The use of DDT against malaria was not banned, and the court hearings did not find it harmless.

It took until 2005 for the World Health Organisation to admit to DDT’s harmlessness.

This is not true. The World Health Organization has never stopped promoting the use of DDT.

Wondering, as Jessica Mudditt puts it in the WORLDwrite film, ‘whether the next mosquito bite is going to kill you’ is a terrible state of affairs for people in malarial areas. Never mind staying up late or going out at night, simply a rip, a tear, a tangle in your bed-net, or a trip to a pit latrine in the middle of the night, might be a killer moment. And all of this because Western campaigners hate the amazing chemicals we have created that can wipe out the pests.

ITNs are not 100% effective at preventing mosquito bites, but neither is IRS with DDT. But the scientific evidence shows that ITNs are more cost effective. And again, the nets are treated with insecticide, which seems inconsistent with the claim that their proponents hate chemicals. And we have no chemicals that can wipe out mosquitoes. The point of both ITNs and IRS is to stop the mosquitoes from biting people.

Comments

  1. #1 Aureola Nominee, FCD
    May 1, 2009

    Tim, something seems to be wrong with your table; the highest range appears above the table itself, and there’s no figure for IRS.

  2. #2 Ken Houghton
    May 1, 2009

    Looks fine in an OLD version of Firefox:

    Method: Cost per child Saved

    Conventional ITNs: $438 – $2,199

    Long-lasting ITNs: $502 – $692

    IRS: $3,933 – $4,357

  3. #3 Aureola Nominee, FCD
    May 1, 2009

    Now everything is fine (I am reading the post in Seamonkey).

  4. #4 Tim Lambert
    May 1, 2009

    Yes, I fixed it.

  5. #5 ben
    May 1, 2009

    DDT is among the areas where “the right” gets it wrong in a painful way. Interesting to see that the far left has problems with this issue too.

  6. #6 Phil
    May 1, 2009

    ben: Living Marxism were originally a (very eccentric and cultist) Trotskyite group, but since the fall of communism their members have reinvented themselves as the worst type of unthinkingly and slavishly pro-corporate right libertarian.

  7. #7 BrendanH
    May 1, 2009

    Ben,

    If I remember correctly, this group isn’t “far left”. Rather, they used to be leftists, but reacted to the the fall of the wall by deciding “if you can’t beat them join them” and morphing into common-or-garden libertarians.

  8. #8 BrendanH
    May 1, 2009

    Phil is quicker off the mark. Obviously not posting while washing up!

  9. #9 Brian D
    May 1, 2009

    Ben, you’re right that there are wingnuts on both the left and the right (aside: During the Pravda thread and the subsequent MoreGunsLessCrime thread, we discussed that I consider left/right an oversimplification, and after our discussion on guns I think you grew to understand that in my case at least), along with a few that aren’t particularly affiliated with any one side. Obviously the factor to oppose isn’t an ideological one. One needs to look at the *tactics* involved, which are consistent across all realms of wingnuttia, regardless of where on the spectra they fall. (You fall victim to a few of them too, but appear to catch them in other areas. Forgive me if I find this interesting.)

    That said, take a look at Living Marxism. It’s “left” in name only: They’re a libertarian group, which you would probably classify as “right”. (The “Revolutionary Communist Party” was actually very libertarian despite the name.) Have you ever heard a left group repeat the DDT ban myth?

  10. #10 Brian D
    May 1, 2009

    Ack, teach me to go looking for links and post without refreshing the page first. Why doesn’t the Preview button show an updated thread?

  11. #11 Jeremy C
    May 1, 2009

    Wasn’t what’s-his-name who produced ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ part of the Living Marxism group?

  12. #12 sod
    May 1, 2009

    Wasn’t what’s-his-name who produced ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ part of the Living Marxism group?

    according to the [wiki entry](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Durkin_(television_director)):

    Critics and supporters of Durkin’s programmes have claimed he is closely involved with the Revolutionary Communist Party and its later offshoots Living Marxism (or LM magazine) and Spiked, a magazine and associated political network which promotes libertarian views.[20] [21] [22] [23] [24]

  13. #13 ben
    May 1, 2009

    No, I haven’t heard a left group repeat the DDT ban myth, but neither have I heard of a right/libertarian group refer to themselves as Marxist or Communist. There’s a first for everything, apparently.

    I would not expect a left group to be with the DDT ban myth because they are first and foremost on the environmentalist bandwagon. Not to say that I’m not somewhat on that same bandwagon myself. I do think that many in the environmental movement go to far.

  14. #14 Brian D
    May 1, 2009

    I [have never before] heard of a right/libertarian group refer to themselves as Marxist or Communist. There’s a first for everything, apparently.

    I have, although not in the same order as the Living Marxism movement (which started out left but shifted its ideology without shifting its name — I should note that the Liberal Party of Canada is in a similar pickle, except the shift was less severe. They sound left, campaign left-of-center, but govern right-of-center.).

    Groups with fake names are a type of front group. One example I discovered not long ago is the Sustainable Development Network, which is named after a traditional leftist value (that is, low environmental impact) and has a website designed to look like an environmental group. However, looking at what they have to say on these issues, it primarily concerns itself with bashing Kyoto, citing the Friends of Science (an oil industry front group), disputing any water regulation issue, and promulgating the DDT ban myth. When I first discovered this group, I did a reverse-IP lookup on it, and found that it shared a server with nearly fifty “independent” libertarian think-tanks and advocacy groups, which Frank Bi has been documenting on his blog (it’s unusual for so many related sites to share a server unless they’re actually run by the same group; most of these linked to or cited each other all willy-nilly). As of today, it’s moved to a different server with just two other “independent” libertarian advocacy groups, however each of them shares headlines from the others and also spend time promulgating the DDT ban myth.

    (Interesting tidbit: The server it used to be on was the old server of the Atlas Economic Research Institute. Guess what the one think tank cited by all three of the sites on the new server is? Atlas also features prominently in Frank’s maze of think tanks. Unlike the others I mentioned above, its goal is on its sleeve – when I first found it, its website had some fifteen instances of the word “freedom”, even when it was grammatically unclear what it was referring to. It worshiped the word “freedom” like a jingoist worships his national flag, and with all the self-criticism you’d expect of an ideologue.)

    This is why checking your sources is so very, very important. It’s why I found your blind assumption that LM was leftist based on its name so disappointing.

  15. #15 Dano
    May 1, 2009

    Generally I assume that opposition to good ideas means an ideological opposition to solutions. This confuses me however. How dumb can you be to want the death of poor people? Is it so obvious you want all the money in the world to accrue to the top 1%?

    Best,

    D

  16. #16 dhogaza
    May 1, 2009

    I would not expect a left group to be with the DDT ban myth because they are first and foremost on the environmentalistscience bandwagon.

    There, that’s better, Ben. Sound science underlies the ban on widespread and indiscriminate use of DDT.

  17. #17 DH
    May 2, 2009
  18. #18 WotWot
    May 2, 2009

    I got as far as

    Ceri Dingle writes in Spiked:

    and stopped.

    Spiked

    Nuff sed.

  19. #19 jay
    May 2, 2009

    Yes, Dingle is opposed to bednets because they are an inexpensive way to prevent malaria.

    While you may disagree, you misrepresent his objection, outside your quotes, he seems to object on the basis that it’s a feelgood cop-out rather than doing what he feels needs to be done (and was done very successfully in the developed world): massive mesquito elimination.

    Bed nets are probably better than nothing, but hardly anything close to a serious solution.

  20. #20 Bernard J.
    May 2, 2009

    DH.

    I wouldn’t dare to visit that cesspool for fear that I couldn’t wash the resultant grubby feeling away.

    However, I’m willing to bet that Bird doesn’t use a single reference to any epidemiological, pathological, or ecological research or data to support his statements.

    Perhaps someone more adventurous than myself could confirm this for me.

  21. #21 sod
    May 2, 2009

    i wouldn t call myself “adventurous, but the piece is titled:

    Chilling Eugenicist Application Of Crap Statistics/The Advocacy Of Bednets Alone/The THREE FEET FROM GENOCIDE Setup.

    and contains gems like:

    Because the malarial agent isn’t just a horrifying disease for humans. Its a disease for the mosquito also, though apparently not one that is able to curb their numbers.

    so i am glad, that finally someone is up, to heal those mosquitos….

    in comparison with graemebird, Tim Curtin is a wise man. i surely had better conversations with passed out football hooligans between their puking phases, that with Bird…

  22. #22 bi -- IJI
    May 2, 2009

    > Bed nets are probably better than nothing, but hardly anything close to a serious solution.

    Everyone knows that the only serious solution to everything is Nukes.

  23. #23 luminous beauty
    May 2, 2009

    jay,

    No one has ever successfully eliminated mosquito populations anywhere, much less with massive solutions. Instead mosquito populations are controlled using multiple narrowly directed vector control methods. In malarial tropical rain forests, treated bed nets are one very effective and essential element of vector control.

  24. #24 dhogaza
    May 2, 2009

    (and was done very successfully in the developed world): massive mesquito elimination.

    Someone forgot to tell the mosquitos in North America, apparently.

    Or I just hallucinate all the mosquito bytes I get when out in the woods or wetlands in mid-May until the the end of June.

  25. #25 Dano
    May 2, 2009

    I suspect eliminating the mosquito population would be a good way to test the ‘trophic cascade’ theory and tipping points for ecological collapse; this would then test the cornucopian assertions that the economy is not dependent upon the earth for existence.

    Best,

    D

  26. #26 sod
    May 2, 2009

    I suspect eliminating the mosquito population would be a good way to test the ‘trophic cascade’ theory and tipping points for ecological collapse; this would then test the cornucopian assertions that the economy is not dependent upon the earth for existence.

    nice one Dano.

    though according to Tim Curtin, all species can live of what he is growing in his garden. carrots will easily replace mosquitos as food for everything!

  27. #27 dhogaza
    May 2, 2009

    carrots will easily replace mosquitos as food for everything!

    Undoubtably. If Tyrannosauras rex could live on coconuts in the Garden of Eden, with a little prodding and encouragement everything could learn to live on carrots, no?

  28. #28 Marion Delgado
    May 2, 2009

    Living Marxism is a radical capitalist group. What a triumph of marketing, really.

    On behalf of the Real Federalist Society, of which the Federalist Society is simply a splinter group, I want to say all we Federalists and genuine conservatives endorse single-payer health care, nationalization of large companies, the United Nations, and adopting the orphaned former Soviet anthem to replace “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    We support Living Capitalism, as prefigured by the excellent economist Trotsky. The logical successor to Adam Smith and Ludwig Von Mises.

  29. #29 Ed Darrell
    May 2, 2009

    While you may disagree, you misrepresent his objection, outside your quotes, he seems to object on the basis that it’s a feelgood cop-out rather than doing what he feels needs to be done (and was done very successfully in the developed world): massive mesquito elimination.

    What beat malaria in the U.S. — officially, by 1939, the year DDT was discovered to be an insecticide and seven years before it came into use as a pesticide — was rising incomes which put poor people into better, mosquito-resistant housing, screens on windows, and effective public health campaigns to treat malaria in humans to reduce the pool from which vectors could draw parasite oocytes to pass on to other victims.

    In short, it was the pre-World War equivalent of bednets.

    Bednets are not the feelgood cop-out. They are the backbone of the efforts to stop bites. There need to be similarly ambitious efforts to improve medical care, and there needs to be a powerful program to eradicate breeding near homes. But preventing the bites is one of the critical keys to ending the disease.

  30. #30 Bud
    May 3, 2009

    The libertarian efforts to portray all mainstream science relating to the environment as the product of a secretive cabal of rich, white, Western anarcho-primitivists continues apace, then.

  31. #31 Anonymous
    May 3, 2009

    RE #29.

    The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) says:
    The National Malaria Eradication Program, a cooperative undertaking by State and local health agencies of 13 Southeastern States and the Communicable Disease Center of the U. S. Public Health Service, originally proposed by Dr. L. L. Williams, commenced operations on July 1, 1947. The program consisted primarily of DDT application to the interior surfaces of rural homes or entire premises in counties where malaria was reported to have been prevalent in recent years. By the end of 1949, over 4,650,000 house spray applications had been made. Total elimination of transmission was slowly achieved. By 1951, CDC gradually withdrew from active participation in the operational phases of the program and shifted to its interest to surveillance, and in 1952, CDC participation in operations ceased altogether.

    See
    http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/history/eradication_us.htm

  32. #32 dhogaza
    May 3, 2009

    #31.

    interesting. So in 1947 the US Public Health Service was using limited and targeted application of DDT and effectively wiped out malaria in the SE US.

    Rather than the widespread, broadcast, indiscriminate application of DDT favored by the RWingnuts who claim that “environmentalists are purposely killing black people”.

  33. #33 Harald Korneliussen
    May 4, 2009

    A real old-fashioned communist front group, instead of all these newfangled corporate ones. Ah, the nostalgia!

  34. #34 Marion Delgado
    May 4, 2009

    Harald:

    Not at all true. They are yet another corporate front group. Like LaRouche and other fascists, they rip off popular discontent and pretend to be concerned about the masses, but LM and Durkin are corporate fronts. At least LaRouche pays lip service to the odd populist idea, but Spiked is all-corporate, all-market-fundamentalism, all the time.

  35. #35 MikeB
    May 4, 2009

    The Living Marxism/Spiked/Institute of Ideas et al grouping seems to be almost more of a cult than a front group.

    George Monbiot has a fair number of articles going back years on his site – this one http://www.monbiot.com/archives/1998/11/01/far-left-or-far-right/ goes back to 1998. Try a search for Living Marxism as well as Spiked, and you come across some scary stuff. What’s worrying for us Brits is how many of the former LM drones went on to become regular guests in the UK media, with all their nonsense completely unchanged.

    They’ve even managed to fool a whole load of regular people when they set up Sense About Science http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2003/12/09/invasion-of-the-entryists/. A corporate front group mixed in with a bit of the Moonies.

    Be afraid, very afraid.

  36. #36 Gavin's Pussycat
    May 10, 2009

    Why am I not surprised… I’ve always maintained that libertarianism is a religion, like marxism in its day.

    I am reminded of what my old friend Vladimir Ilyits used to say: useful idiots.

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