The Zambian government has secretly imported a globally banned insecticide that scientists believe causes breast cancer and reduces sperm quality for its malaria control program.
The Ministry of Health has since received the consignment from state-owned Indian company HIL Ltd of 114.2 tonnes of organochlorine insecticide DDT to Zambia for a malaria control program.
“This is the last phase of dispatch out of the 307-tonne order received from Zambia’s Health Ministry,” HIL Chairman and Managing Director S P Mohanty said in an official statement.
HIL, the sole manufacturer of DDT globally.
“India is committed to manufacture and supply quality products at reasonable prices to the Southern African region, which will strengthen our bilateral relationship,” the ministry added.
And Environmentalist Robert Chimambo has condemned the decision by the Ministry of Health to secretly import DDT.
Mr. Chimambo said according to the Stockholm Convention to which Zambia is a Party, the use of DDT, an environmentally dangerous Chemical has been banned.
“Why is ZEMA and Government now allowing the importation of this dangerous chemical into the country?”
Mr. Chimambo questioned whether Zambia is now a dumping ground saying the country is now awash in dangerous cancer-causing Chemical Fertilizers.
“Agro-Chemicals, Glyphoset, Atrizine, etc. Now, are we again adding DDT to this Chemical brew? What’s happening to our Country.”
DDT has not been sprayed in Zambia since 2010 when evidence of mosquito resistance to it began to emerge.
The pesticide DDT has been banned in the developed world for years now and in 2006, the WHO joined forces with the UN Environmental Program to completely phase out DDT worldwide by 2020.
And Dr Brenda Eskenazi of the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health who has just completed a review of more than 500 studies on pesticide and human health backed WHO’s decision to ban DDT.
Dr. Eskenazi describes the health problems associated with DDT: “The studies that have come out have suggested that there are associations with breast cancer, there are associations with effects on the neurobehavioral development of children, there are associations with spontaneous abortion. And there are quite a number of studies that have looked at DDT and diabetes and found an association.“
“But the most interesting work is working out of South Africa in a community where DDT was being used using indoor residual spraying where they actually spray the insides of the mud huts to prevent the mosquitoes from lodging on the walls. And they found that the men that lived there had a dose-related decrease in semen quality. And it was very profound, but there are also very, very few studies that have been conducted in the communities where DDT is actively being used in the method it’s being used currently.”