Quick Overview: DDT

DDT, dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, is a chemical pesticide that is highly effective in controlling certain disease, especially malaria. However, DDT also presents environmental and health dangers and, thus, has been strictly limited by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants signed in 2001, effective in 2004; and by various countries, for example, the United States Environmental Protection Agency throughout the 1950s and 1960s, with a total ban in 1972. However, many raise concerns over banning DDT, especially in poorer nations, because no other cost-effective solution as effective as DDT has yet been found. The World Health Organisation issued a statement in 2011, which stated:

” A premature shift to less effective or more costly alternatives to DDT, without a strengthening of the capacity (human, technical, financial) of Member States will not only be unsustainable, but will also have a negative impact on the disease burden in endemic countries.”

It must be noted that the WHO 2011 statement concerns the indoor use of DDT only. After the outbreak of the Zika Virus in the United States, the debate over the use of DDT has re-emerged.