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[afro-nets] Human Rights that Really Matter

  • From: Hamisi Malebo <malebo@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 12:41:26 +0300

Human Rights that Really Matter

by Niger Innis & Paul Driessen
12 December 2005

Two billion people -- a third of humanity -- are still at risk
of getting malaria in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Human Rights Day (December 10) focuses on a myriad of "rights"
that activists and commissions declare are "fundamental." Some
certainly are, while others are questionable, at best. This
year, news stories will likely dwell on secret CIA jails that
supposedly violate the rights of terrorists intent on maiming
and murdering adults and children.

Conspicuously absent will be accounts of what growing numbers of
people view as intolerable human rights violations that affect
billions of innocent people every year.

Back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, the United States and Europe
used DDT and other insecticides to protect soldiers, war and
concentration camp survivors, and entire nations from the rav-
ages of typhus, malaria and yellow fever. If they hadn't, mil-
lions would have died.

Instead, these killer diseases were completely eradicated from
the US, Europe, Canada and Australia. However, two billion peo-
ple -- a third of humanity -- are still at risk of getting ma-
laria in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Half a billion actually
get it every year, leaving them unable to work or care for their
families for weeks or months on end. More than a million die,
and tens of thousands are left permanently brain-damaged. Half
are children.

Incredibly, the annual death toll from malaria is over 10,000
times greater that the U.S. toll from the West Nile virus that
so terrifies American mothers.

Different species of mosquitoes carry constantly mutating ma-
laria parasites under widely varying conditions in tropical to
temperate regions. But it's still a preventable and treatable

We have the knowledge and weapons to save lives through humani-
tarian and environmentally sound anti-malaria programs. Unfortu-
nately, we have lacked the moral clarity and political willpower
to do so. Certain environmental groups, governments and even
healthcare agencies support bed nets and various other interven-
tions that do help in controlling malaria. But many of them vis-
cerally oppose the most effective weaponry in our arsenal: in-
secticides, especially DDT.

Just spraying tiny amounts of DDT on the inside walls of houses
once or twice a year keeps 90 percent of mosquitoes from even
entering, reduces malaria rates by 75 percent or more, and en-
ables doctors to provide the very best medicines to people who
still get malaria. South Africa used this approach to slash ma-
laria rates by 96% in three years. That's why we hold that ac-
cess to life-saving insecticides is a fundamental human right.

Today, though, people in wealthy, malaria-free countries fear
insecticides more than this horrific disease. They conjure up
specters of speculative risks from DDT, but downplay the misery
and death that the insecticide would prevent. They threaten aid
cutoffs and agricultural export bans against any malaria-endemic
country that even suggests it might use DDT.

These actions -- by Greenpeace, the Pesticide Action Network,
Physicians for Social Responsibility, World Health Organization,
U.S. Agency for International Development, World Bank and Euro-
pean Union -- are major human rights violations. The stony si-
lence of Amnesty International, the United Nations and similar
organizations raises disturbing questions about their fitness to
judge anyone's alleged human rights violations, or their failure
to meet ethical or "corporate social responsibility" standards.

Fortunately, the tide is turning.

The Hedge Funds vs. Malaria Business Leadership Conference this
week at Atlanta's Emory University brought together distin-
guished business, academic, medical, sports and political lead-
ers to outline new strategies for reducing malaria. Speakers
discussed programs, technologies and private initiatives that
could bring health, hope and prosperity to nations that malaria
has kept mired in poverty and misery.

Nearly every speaker has endorsed the Kill Malarial Mosquitoes
NOW! Declaration. It demands that US, EU and UN policies permit,
encourage and support the use of DDT, other insecticides and
modern drugs. Otherwise millions will continue to die need-

The Declaration promotes insecticide use in addition to -- but
never instead of -- all the other weapons we use to combat this
serial killer. It presents in detail the reasons why DDT, other
insecticides and new combination drug therapies are vital to
controlling malaria.

The KMMN campaign has already gained the support of Nobel Peace
Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Norman Borlaug, Green-
peace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore, Congress of Racial Equality
national chairman Roy Innis, and hundreds of clergy, physicians,
infectious disease experts, political leaders and human rights
advocates from all over the world. (See
http://www.FightingMalaria.org to read and endorse the declara-
tion.) It's already helped persuade Congress to enact legisla-
tion directing the USAID to revamp its policies -- and the
agency is responding, albeit slowly.

However, all this marks only the beginning.

Winning the war against trillions of malarial mosquitoes will
require every bit of the innovative can-do spirit that stopped
cholera and polio -- the kind that could one day put malaria on
the ash heap of history. It will require eliminating the obsta-
cles and restrictions erected by radical activists and bureau-
crats, whose devotion to environmental purity is often stronger
than their devotion to human health and life.

Like Martin Luther King, we have a dream. Of a day when parents
and children can live without fear of being struck down by ma-
laria. Of a day when grandparents can talk of a time, long ago,
when there was a disease called malaria.

Many of us have witnessed that change right here in the United
States. There is no reason it can't happen in Africa, Asia and
Latin America.

It will require a willingness to accept the reality of the huge
task before us, and take whatever steps are necessary to stop
malaria's global reign of terror. But it can be done.

And there is no better time to begin than now, on international
Human Rights Day.

Niger Innis is national spokesman for the Congress of Racial

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Congress of Ra-
cial Equality, Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Center
for the Defense of Free Enterprise, and author of Eco-
Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death.

Hamisi Masanja Malebo
PhD Candidate (Medicinal Phytochemistry)
Department of Chemistry, Kenyatta Universty
P.O. Box 43844, Nairobi, Kenya
Mobile: +254-721-922-096
Fax: +254-22811242