MALARIA—780,000 DEATHS A YEAR. Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, begins a review in the New York Review of Books (February 24) of a new book about current efforts to fight malaria with the sentence: “The US eradicated malaria in 1951.” He points out that when the United States National Malaria Eradication Program began in 1947, malaria had become concentrated in 13 southeastern states; four years later it was gone. The review gives figures for 2008 of an estimated 225 million cases of malaria a year in the world and 780,000 malaria deaths a year, with 85% of the deaths of children under 5. In the survey of current efforts, the review makes no mention of how malaria was successfully eradicated in the United States. I imagine that the reason it is not mentioned, is that one of the major means of eradicating malaria was the use of DDT—and DDT is unmentionable in the sense that articles about fighting malaria are written without mentioning it. I have always thought that with hundreds of thousands of deaths a year at stake, that the pros and cons and limitations of using DDT would be issues that are heavily discussed, but it is rare to find an article which discusses them.

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