Nothing But Nets invites you to join in the fight against malaria, for World Malaria Day

April 3, 2014

I get e-mail from Nothing But Nets, in preparation for World Malaria Day, April 25, 2014:

Compete to Beat Malaria Header with credit

Dear Ed,

As you know, World Malaria Day is April 25, and supporters will be taking action throughout April to help us send 25,000 bed nets to families in Africa.

Are you in?

Our champions are holding basketball tournaments, soccer games, and running in 5K races to get their friends, families, and communities involved in the fight against malaria.Megan Walter Jumpology

Megan Walter, our supporter from Richmond, Virginia, organized a unique event in her hometown. She partnered with her local trampoline park to jump for nets – and they raised $10 for every jumper who participated. The event was a huge success, raising more than $2,000 to send 200 bed nets to families in Africa. What made it even better is that Megan had fun doing it!

There are lots of ways to raise money and send nets while doing what you love. Every $10 you raise helps us purchase and distribute life-saving bed nets with our UN partners.

What sports challenge will you do this April?

Join us in sending nets and saving lives for World Malaria Day! Together, we can defeat malaria.


Liz Wing
Senior Grassroots Officer, Nothing But Nets

P.S. Whether you run, swim, or play basketball, you can help raise critical funds and save lives. Take a challenge.


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You noted, of course:  No call for more DDT.  No slamming of science, scientists, medicine, medical workers, or Rachel Carson and environmental organizations.

This comes from people who fight malaria for a (meager) living, on non-profit basis, without political bias.  In short, these people need help, and consequently have no use for the pro-DDT, anti-Rachel Carson, anti-WHO, anti-science hoaxes.

Please give.  Every $10 can save a life.

World malaria report 2013 shows major progress in fight against malaria, calls for sustained financing (but not DDT)

March 21, 2014

News release from the World Health Organization:

World malaria report 2013 shows major progress in fight against malaria, calls for sustained financing

News release

Cover of World Malaria Report 2013

Cover of World Malaria Report 2013

11 December 2013 | Geneva/Washington DC - Global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing malaria mortality rates by 45% globally and by 49% in Africa, according to the “World malaria report 2013″ published by WHO.

An expansion of prevention and control measures has been mirrored by a consistent decline in malaria deaths and illness, despite an increase in the global population at risk of malaria between 2000 and 2012. Increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce incidence of malaria by 29% globally, and by 31% in Africa.

The large majority of the 3.3 million lives saved between 2000 and 2012 were in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden, and among children aged less than 5 years – the group most affected by the disease. Over the same period, malaria mortality rates in children in Africa were reduced by an estimated 54%.

But more needs to be done.

“This remarkable progress is no cause for complacency: absolute numbers of malaria cases and deaths are not going down as fast as they could,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “The fact that so many people are infected and dying from mosquito bites is one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century.”

In 2012, there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria (uncertainty interval: 135 – 287 million), which caused approximately 627 000 malaria deaths (uncertainty interval 473 000 – 789 000). An estimated 3.4 billion people continue to be at risk of malaria, mostly in Africa and south-east Asia. Around 80% of malaria cases occur in Africa.

Long way from universal access to prevention and treatment

Malaria prevention suffered a setback after its strong build-up between 2005 and 2010. The new WHO report notes a slowdown in the expansion of interventions to control mosquitoes for the second successive year, particularly in providing access to insecticide-treated bed nets. This has been primarily due to lack of funds to procure bed nets in countries that have ongoing malaria transmission.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of the population with access to an insecticide-treated bed net remained well under 50% in 2013. Only 70 million new bed nets were delivered to malaria-endemic countries in 2012, below the 150 million minimum needed every year to ensure everyone at risk is protected. However, in 2013, about 136 million nets were delivered, and the pipeline for 2014 looks even stronger (approximately 200 million), suggesting that there is real chance for a turnaround.

There was no such setback for malaria diagnostic testing, which has continued to expand in recent years. Between 2010 and 2012, the proportion of people with suspected malaria who received a diagnostic test in the public sector increased from 44% to 64% globally.

Access to WHO-recommended artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) has also increased, with the number of treatment courses delivered to countries rising from 76 million in 2006 to 331 million in 2012.

Despite this progress, millions of people continue to lack access to diagnosis and quality-assured treatment, particularly in countries with weak health systems. The roll-out of preventive therapies – recommended for infants, children under 5 and pregnant women – has also been slow in recent years.

“To win the fight against malaria we must get the means to prevent and treat the disease to every family who needs it,” says Raymond G Chambers, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria. “Our collective efforts are not only ending the needless suffering of millions, but are helping families thrive and adding billions of dollars to economies that nations can use in other ways.”

Global funding gap

International funding for malaria control increased from less than US$ 100 million in 2000 to almost US$ 2 billion in 2012. Domestic funding stood at around US$ 0.5 billion in the same year, bringing the total international and domestic funding committed to malaria control to US$ 2.5 billion in 2012 – less than half the US$ 5.1 billion needed each year to achieve universal access to interventions.

Without adequate and predictable funding, the progress against malaria is also threatened by emerging parasite resistance to artemisinin, the core component of ACTs, and mosquito resistance to insecticides. Artemisinin resistance has been detected in four countries in south-east Asia, and insecticide resistance has been found in at least 64 countries.

“The remarkable gains against malaria are still fragile,” says Dr Robert Newman, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. “In the next 10-15 years, the world will need innovative tools and technologies, as well as new strategic approaches to sustain and accelerate progress.”

WHO is currently developing a global technical strategy for malaria control and elimination for the 2016-2025 period, as well as a global plan to control and eliminate Plasmodium vivax malaria. Prevalent primarily in Asia and South America, P. vivax malaria is less likely than P. falciparum to result in severe malaria or death, but it generally responds more slowly to control efforts. Globally, about 9% of the estimated malaria cases are due to P. vivax, although the proportion outside the African continent is 50%.

“The vote of confidence shown by donors last week at the replenishment conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is testimony to the success of global partnership. But we must fill the annual gap of US$ 2.6 billion to achieve universal coverage and prevent malaria deaths,” said Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. “This is our historic opportunity to defeat malaria.”

Notes for editors:

The “World malaria report 2013″ summarizes information received from 102 countries that had on-going malaria transmission during the 2000-2012 period, and other sources, and updates the analyses presented in 2012.

The report contains revised estimates of the number of malaria cases and deaths, which integrate new and updated under-5 mortality estimates produced by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, as well as new data from the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group.

Resources for World Malaria Day 2013

April 25, 2013

Not a word about condemning Rachel Carson.  No plea to use DDT to try to poison Africa or Asia to health.  That’s a great start.


Mother and son under a protective bednet, the most efficient method to prevent malaria.  Columbia University MVSim image

Mother and son under a protective bednet, the most efficient method to prevent malaria. Columbia University MVSim image

April 25 is World Malaria Day — right, Bill?

April 24, 2013

He’s absolutely right.

English: World Malaria Day Button (english)

English: World Malaria Day Button (english) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are you doing to fight malaria today?


Passing the 200 post mark on Rachel Carson, DDT and Malaria

January 13, 2013

I’m running behind in listing some of the articles, but since Utah Rep. Rob Bishop first alerted me to the stupidity raging on Rachel Carson‘s reputation, DDT‘s dangers and malaria, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub hosted more than 200 articles on the topics.

Palau's stamp honoring Rachel Carson

Postage stamp honoring Rachel Carson, part of the “20th century environmental heroes” set from the South Pacific nation of Palau, PlanetPatriot image

Overwhelmingly, the evidence is that Rachel Carson was right, DDT is still dangerous and needs to be banned, but malaria still declines, even with declining DDT use.

You can look at the list of 200 articles, in reverse chronological order, here.


World Malaria Report 2012: Malaria still declining, but more resources needed fast

January 4, 2013

Significant gains against malaria could be lost because funding for insecticide-treated bednets has dropped, and malaria parasites appear to be developing resistance to the pharmaceuticals used to clear the disease from humans, while insects that transmit the parasites develop resistance to insecticides used to hold their populations down.

Malaria room

African bedroom equipped with LLINs (insecticidal bednets) Photo: YoHandy/Flickr

UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) published its annual report on the fight against malaria last month, December 2012.  Accompanying the many page World Malaria Report 2012  were a press release and a FAQ; the fact-sheet appears unedited below.

Insecticidal bednets have proven to be a major, effective tool in reducing malaria infections.  Careful studies of several different projects produced a consensus that distributing the nets for free works best; people in malaria-infected areas simply cannot afford to pay even for life-saving devices, but they use the devices wisely when they get them.  Nets often get abbreviated in official documents to “LLINs,” an acronym for “long-lasting insecticidal nets.”

Generally, the report is good news.

Dramatic facts emerge from the report:  The “million-a-year” death toll from malaria has been whacked to fewer than 700,000, the lowest level in recorded human history.  More people may die, and soon, if aid does not come to replace worn bednets, distribute new ones, and if the drugs that cure the disease in humans, lose effectiveness.  Many nations where the disease is endemic cannot afford to wage the fight on their own.

Links in the Fact Sheet were added here, and do not come from the original report — except for the link to the WHO site itself.

Logo for World Health Organization

17 December 2012

World Malaria Report 2012


Malaria is a preventable and treatable mosquito-borne disease, whose main victims are children under five years of age in Africa.

The World Malaria Report 2012 summarizes data received from 104 malaria-endemic countries and territories for 2011. Ninety-nine of these countries had on-going malaria transmission.

According to the latest WHO estimates, there were about 219 million cases of malaria in 2010 and an estimated 660,000 deaths. Africa is the most affected continent: about 90% of all malaria deaths occur there.

Between 2000 and 2010, malaria mortality rates fell by 26% around the world. In the WHO African Region the decrease was 33%. During this period, an estimated 1.1 million malaria deaths were averted globally, primarily as a result of a scale-up of interventions.

Funding situation

International disbursements for malaria control rose steeply during the past eight years and were estimated to be US$ 1.66 billion in 2011 and US$ 1.84 billion in 2012. National government funding for malaria programmes has also been increasing in recent years, and stood at an estimated US$ 625 million in 2011.

However, the currently available funding for malaria prevention and control is far below the resources required to reach global malaria targets. An estimated US$ 5.1 billion is needed every year between 2011 and 2020 to achieve universal access to malaria interventions. In 2011, only US$ 2.3 billion was available, less than half of what is needed.

Disease burden

Malaria remains inextricably linked with poverty. The highest malaria mortality rates are being seen in countries that have the highest rates of extreme poverty (proportion of population living on less than US$1.25 per day).

International targets for reducing malaria cases and deaths will not be attained unless considerable progress can be made in the 17 most affected countries, which account for an estimated 80% of malaria cases.

  • The six highest burden countries in the WHO African region (in order of estimated number of cases) are: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Cote d’Ivoire. These six countries account for an estimated 103 million (or 47%) of malaria cases.
  • In South East Asia, the second most affected region in the world, India has the highest malaria burden (with an estimated 24 million cases per year), followed by Indonesia and Myanmar.  50 countries are on track to reduce their malaria case incidence rates by 75%, in line with World Health Assembly and Roll Back Malaria targets for 2015. These 50 countries only account for 3% (7 million) of the total estimated malaria cases.

At present, malaria surveillance systems detect only around 10% of the estimated global number of cases.  In 41 countries around the world, it is not possible to make a reliable assessment of malaria trends due to incompleteness or inconsistency of reporting over time.

This year, the World Malaria Report 2012 publishes country-based malaria case and mortality estimates (see Annex 6A). The next update on global and regional burden estimates will be issued in December 2013.

Malaria interventions

To achieve universal access to long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), 780 million people at risk would need to have access to LLINs in sub-Saharan Africa, and approximately 150 million bed nets would need to be delivered each year.

The number of LLINs delivered to endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa dropped from a peak of 145 million in 2010 to an estimated 66 million in 2012. This will not be enough to fully replace the LLINs delivered 3 years earlier, indicating that total bed net coverage will decrease unless there is a massive scale-up in 2013. A decrease in LLIN coverage is likely to lead to major resurgences in the disease.

In 2011, 153 million people were protected by indoor residual spraying (IRS) around the world, or 5% of the total global population at risk. In the WHO African Region, 77 million people, or 11% of the population at risk were protected through IRS in 2011.

The number of rapid diagnostic tests delivered to endemic countries increased dramatically from 88 million in 2010 to 155 million in 2011. This was complemented by a significant improvement in the quality of tests over time.

In 2011, 278 million courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) were procured by the public and private sectors in endemic countries – up from 182 million in 2010, and just 11 million in 2005. ACTs are recommended as the first-line treatment for malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly Plasmodium species that infects humans. This increase was largely driven by the scale-up of subsidized ACTs in the private sector through the AMFm initiative, managed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Drug and insecticide resistance

Antimalarial drug resistance is a major concern for the global effort to control malaria. P. falciparum resistance to artemisinins has been detected in four countries in South East Asia: in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. There is an urgent need to expand containment efforts in affected countries. For now, ACTs remain highly effective in almost all settings, so long as the partner drug in the combination is locally effective.

Mosquito resistance to at least one insecticide used for malaria control has been identified in 64 countries around the world. In May 2012, WHO and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership released the Global Plan for Insecticide Resistance Management in malaria vectors, a five-pillar strategy for managing the threat of insecticide resistance.

You were perceptive.  You noted there is no call from malaria fighters for more DDT, nor for any change in DDT policy.  This is a report from medical personnel, from public health experts, the real malaria fighters.  It’s not a political screed.

More, and related articles:

NIH notes progress against malaria on World Malaria Day 2012

April 28, 2012

Press release from the National Institutes of Health, for World Malaria Day (April 25, 2012):

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NIH statement on World Malaria Day – April 25, 2012

B. F. (Lee) Hall, M.D., Ph.D., and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

On World Malaria Day, we stand at a critical juncture in our efforts to control a global scourge. This year’s theme “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria” stresses the crucial role of continued investment of resources to maintain hard-won gains. Lives have indeed been saved. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, annual deaths from malaria decreased from roughly 985,000 in 2000 to approximately 655,000 in 2010. Improvements were noted in all regions that WHO monitors, and, since 2007, four formerly malaria-endemic countries — the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Turkmenistan and Armenia — have been declared malaria-free. However, about half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria, and the disease continues to exact an unacceptably high toll, especially among very young children and pregnant women.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is committed to maintaining the research momentum needed to eradicate this mosquito-borne parasitic disease. Our investments include programs designed to strengthen research capacity in those countries most affected by malaria. For example, through the 2010 International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research initiative, NIAID has established 10 research centers in malaria-endemic regions around the world. NIAID also provides access for U.S. and international scientists to multiple research resources as well as training for new investigators. Additionally, NIAID supports the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP), an international framework for coordinated action designed to control, eliminate and eradicate malaria.

NIAID’s research portfolio includes an array of projects aimed at better understanding the disease process and finding new and improved ways to diagnose and treat people with malaria, control the mosquitoes that spread it, and prevent malaria altogether through vaccination.

Earlier this month, an international team including NIAID-funded investigators reported that resistance to artemisinin — a frontline malaria drug — has spread from Cambodia to the border of Thailand and Burma, underscoring the importance of continued efforts to detect artemisinin resistance and slow its spread. Other grantees have identified a major region of the malaria parasite genome associated with artemisinin resistance, raising the possibility that scientists will have a new way to monitor the spread of drug resistance in the field.

The spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria highlights the need for new and improved malaria drugs. Two recently completed drug screening projects offer some hope. In one project, NIH scientists screened nearly 3,000 chemicals, and found 32 that were highly effective at killing numerous genetically diverse malaria parasite strains. Another screening project identified a new class of compounds that inhibits parasites in both the blood stage and in the liver. The research could lead to the development of malaria drugs that attack the parasite at multiple stages in its lifecycle, which would hamper the parasite’s ability to develop drug resistance.

Work continues on a novel anti-malaria compound, NITD609, first described by NIAID-supported researchers in 2010. A mid-stage clinical trial to assess NITD609′s activity in people began in Thailand this year. Research on NITD609 is a continuing collaboration among NIH-funded scientists, the pharmaceutical company Novartis, and the nonprofit Medicines for Malaria Venture.

Because the risk of childhood malaria is related to exposure before birth to the malaria parasite through infected mothers, NIAID scientists recently initiated a program on malaria disease development in pregnant women and young children that could yield new preventive measures and treatments for these most vulnerable groups.

The mosquitoes that spread malaria are also the target of NIAID-supported science. In 2011, researchers identified bacteria that render mosquitoes resistant to malaria parasites. Further study is needed, but it may one day be possible to break the cycle of infection by reducing the mosquito’s ability to transmit malaria parasites to people.

A vaccine to prevent malaria has been frustratingly elusive, and so initial positive results reported last year by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and their collaborators came as welcome news. In a late-stage clinical trial in approximately 6,000 African children, the candidate vaccine, known as RTS,S, reduced malaria infections by roughly half. Currently, eight other vaccine candidates are being tested in NIAID-supported clinical trials. One of them uses live, weakened malaria parasites delivered intravenously to prompt an immune response against malaria. An early-stage clinical trial of this vaccine candidate began at NIH earlier this year.

Whether the remarkable returns on investment in malaria control will continue in years ahead depends on our willingness to commit needed financial and intellectual resources to the daunting challenges that remain. On World Malaria Day, we join with our global partners in affirming that commitment and rededicating ourselves to the efforts to defeat malaria worldwide.

For more information on malaria, visit NIAID’s malaria Web portal.

Lee Hall, M.D., Ph.D., is Chief of the Parasitology and International Programs Branch in the NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health

April 25 is World Malaria Day

April 25, 2012

From the World Health Organization, for World Malaria Day 2012:

World Malaria Day

25 April 2012

In 2010, about 3.3 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – were at risk of malaria. Every year, this leads to about 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 655 000 deaths. People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable.

World Malaria Day Button (english)

World Malaria Day Button (english) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World Malaria Day – which was instituted by the World Health Assembly at its 60th session in May 2007 – is a day for recognizing the global effort to provide effective control of malaria. It is an opportunity:

  • for countries in the affected regions to learn from each other’s experiences and support each other’s efforts;
  • for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria;
  • for research and academic institutions to flag their scientific advances to both experts and general public; and
  • for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to scale up what has worked.

Related links

Fewer than 700,000 deaths?  That’s significantly fewer than most reports of more than a million per year — significant progress has been made it fighting malaria.  Keep up those efforts, whatever they are.

Watch your news outlets.  Will the pro-DDT, anti-Rachel Carson hoaxsters hold sway, or will the facts on fighting malaria, from the malaria fighters, get top billing?

Fighting malaria with indoor use of insecticides, with USAID money

September 18, 2011

Short video demonstrating the Indoor Residual Spraying program in Mali, financed by funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  Note there is no ban on DDT, note that fighting malaria, even with poisons for mosquitoes, requires more than just spraying poison.

The video is in French.

539 views, September 18, 2011

Sideshow of DDT and malaria

August 23, 2011

Not exactly a DDT/Malaria carnival.  Just enough for a sideshow.

First, the controversy over use of DDT in Uganda continues, even as DDT is applied daily there.  This demonstrates that DDT remains freely available for use in Africa.  It also demonstrates that Africans are not clamoring for more DDT.

Uganda offers a key proving ground for the propaganda campaign against environmentalists, against scientist, against medical care officials, and for DDT.  Though malaria plagues Uganda today and has done so for the past 200 years at least, it was not a target of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) campaign to eradicate malaria in the 1950s and 1960s, because the nation lacked the governmental structures to mount an effective campaign.  DDT was used to temporarily knock down mosquito populations, so that medical care could be improved quickly and malaria cured among humans.  Then, when the mosquitoes came roaring back as they always do with DDT, there would be no pool of the disease in humans from which the mosquitoes could get infected.  End of malaria problem.

Plus, for a too-long period of time, Uganda was ruled by the brutal dictator Idi Amin.  No serious anti-malaria campaigns could be conducted there, then.

Uganda today exports cotton and tobacco.  Cotton and tobacco interests claim they cannot allow any DDT use, because, they claim, European Union rules would then require that the tobacco and cotton imports be banned from Europe.  I can’t find any rules that require such a ban, and there are precious few incidents that suggest trace DDT residues would be a problem, but this idea contributes to the political turmoil in Uganda.  Businessmen there sued to stop the use of even the small amounts of DDT used for indoor residual spraying (IRS) in modern campaigns.  They lost.  DDT use continues in Uganda, with no evidence that more DDT would help a whit.

Malaria campaign posters from World War II, South Pacific - Mother Jones compilation

Much of the anti-malaria campaign aimed at soldiers, to convince them to use Atabrine, a preventive drug, or to use nets, or just to stay covered up at night, to prevent mosquito bites. Mother Jones compilation of posters and photos.

Second, the website for Mother Jones magazine includes a wonderful 12-slide presentation on DDT in history.  Malaria took out U.S. troops more effectively than the Japanese in some assaults in World War II.  DDT appeared to be a truly great miracle when it was used on some South Pacific islands.  Particularly interesting are the posters trying to get soldiers to help prevent the disease, some done by the World War II-ubiquitous Dr. Seuss.  Good history, there.  Warning:  Portrayals of Japanese are racist by post-War standards.

Third, a new book takes a look at the modern campaigns against malaria, those that use tactics other than DDT.  These campaigns have produced good results, leading some to hope for control of malaria, and leading Bill Gates, one of the biggest investors in anti-malaria campaigns, to kindle hopes of malaria eradication again.  Here is the New York Times  review of  Alex Perry’s Lifeblood: How to Change the World One Dead Mosquito at a Time (PublicAffairs, $25.99).   Perry is chief Africa correspondent for Time Magazine.

This little gem of a book heartens the reader by showing how eagerly an array of American billionaires, including Bill Gates and the New Jersey investor Ray Chambers (the book’s protagonist), are using concepts of efficient management to improve the rest of the world. “Lifeblood” nominally chronicles the global effort to eradicate malaria, but it is really about changes that Mr. Chambers, Mr. Gates and others are bringing to the chronically mismanaged system of foreign aid, especially in Africa.

These three snippets of reporting, snapshots of the worldwide war on malaria, all diverge dramatically from the usual false claims we see that, but for ‘environmentalist’s unholy and unjust war on DDT,’ millions or billions of African children could have been saved from death by malaria.

The real stories are more complex, less strident, and ultimately more hopeful.

Monday is World Malaria Day; watch out for the pro-DDT hoaxes

April 23, 2011

A letter to the editor of the Cape Cod Times:

DDT unnecessary to fight malaria

April 23, 2011

Monday, April 25,is World Malaria Day. Across the globe, public health and malaria experts will be highlighting the urgent need to do more to tackle this preventable disease that kills more than 800,000 people (mostly in Africa) every year.

Here in the United States, a small group of advocates will, once again, use the day to call for widespread use of the pesticide DDT to control malaria. This despite broad, global agreement that widespread spraying of DDT inside people’s homes is not the best way to tackle malaria and can harm human health.

Those pressing for DDT’s widespread use are few, but they are loud and persistent. They are not public health experts, and they are all closely affiliated with right-wing think tanks. These calls to “bring back DDT” are a dangerous distraction from true malaria prevention.

Debbie West

Ms. West is right.

Anecdotal evidence: Malaria spreads to Tanzania highlands, warming climate blamed

April 16, 2011

Here’s one story that critics of science and scientists who study global warming will try to avoid mentioning:  Malaria’s spread in Tanzania appears to be due to deforestation plus a warming climate that altered historic rainfall patterns.

It’s anecdotal evidence, partly.  The case reinforces the point Al Gore made in An Inconvenient Truth, that climate change can smooth the path for the spread of diseases like malaria.

Via, from The Citizen in Dar es Salaam (Sunday Citizen News):

Malaria Threatens Nation’s Highlands

Felix Mwakyembe, 6 March 2011


Mbeya — Tanzania’s southern highlanders have long worried about pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses brought on by the cool, wet weather. But as climate change contributes to warmer temperatures in the region, residents are facing a new health threat: malaria.

In Rungwe, a highland district in the south-western Mbeya region bordering Malawi and Zambia, malaria is fast replacing coughs, fever and pneumonia as the most serious local health problem. The change has taken by surprise the region’s residents, who live over 1,000 metres (3,200 feet) above sea level and outside Tanzania’s traditional malarial zones.

Ms Asha Nsasu, 32, of Isebe village, had no idea she had contracted malaria when she was sent to Makandana District Hospital in late December. “I felt weak. I thought it was pneumonia,” Nsasu said. “Then they told me it was malaria.”

In 2009, health centres in Rungwe district reported 100,966 malaria cases, a jump of 25 per cent from 2006, hospital records show.

Malaria is now the biggest public health threat facing Rungwe district, which lies about 940 kilometres (590 miles) southwest of Dar es Salaam, according to the Tukuyu Medical Research Centre, part of the National Institute for Medical Research. One third of outpatients visiting the hospital were diagnosed with the mosquito-borne illness in 2007, according to records from that year, making it the most common disease for outpatients.

Most highland areas in Tanzania are experiencing a growing burden of malaria cases, officials at the Tukuyu Centre said. Climatic changes brought on in part by local environmental degradation are contributing to the growing prevalence of malaria in the district, said Mr Gideon Ndawala, Rungwe district’s malaria coordinator.

“People have cleared the forests, rain has decreased, temperatures have risen,” Mr Ndawala said in an interview. “(When) I first reported on the district in 1983, it was very cold and it rained throughout the year except from mid-September to early November. The weather was not favourable for mosquito breeding,” he said.

Now, however, temperatures are higher and rain more erratic, he said, and mosquito populations – which thrive on warmer temperatures and breed in pools of stagnant water – are on the rise. Worst hit by the surge in malaria are Tukuyu district town, Ikuti, Rungwe Mission and Ilolo, according to district health officials.

Half a century ago, these traditionally cool areas saw no mosquitoes and did not register any malaria cases, but now the weather is warmer, said Mr Ambakisye Mwakatobe, a 76-year-old man from Bulyaga village in Rungwe.

“In the past, we never saw mosquito nets here. I saw a net for the first time at the age of 20, when I joined Butimba Teachers College in 1957,” he said, in an interview at his village home.

Mzee Mwakatobe said cases of malaria began to appear several decades ago but residents did not relate them to warming temperatures, believing the mosquitoes instead were arriving on buses from lower regions.

“It was in the 1970s when we started getting malaria here. I thought it was the buses from Kyela and Usangu that brought mosquitoes,” he admitted. But “the weather also started to change in those years,” he said.

A half-century ago, “it was very cold here and it rained throughout the year. Three things were compulsory: a sweater, pullover or heavy jacket; an umbrella or raincoat; and gumboots,” he added. “There was frost all day long and cars had to put their lights on.

“But today things have changed,” he said. “Look, now we even put on light shirts. There is no need for sweaters, gumboots or umbrellas.”

Scientists agree that the changing weather is feeding into Rungwe’s worsening malaria problem.

“Up until 1960, districts like Rungwe, Mbeya, Mufindi, Njombe, Makete and Iringa in the southern highland regions were malaria free. Today is quite different – malaria prevalence is high,” said Mr Akili Kalinga, a research scientist at Tukuyu Medical Research Centre.

Malaria accounts for 30 per cent of the burden of disease in Tanzania and is a huge drain on productivity, according to a report produced by research scientists for the Sixth Africa Malaria Day in 2006. In response to the rising malaria caseload, the government is taking steps to stem the disease’s expansion.

Measures include public health education in newly vulnerable districts on home cleanliness and water storage, how to eliminate the places of still water where mosquitoes live and breed, and the use of mosquito nets and fumigation, said Dr Sungwa Ndagabwene, Rungwe’s medical officer.

“The government is taking serious measures to fight malaria. We started with a ‘mosquito nets for all’ campaign – saying every person should sleep under bed nets,” Mr Ndagabwene said.

The government also has begun spraying the inside of homes with insecticide, first in the Kagera Region and now throughout the Lake zone, near Lake Victoria, he said. It plans to expand the spraying programme, which has helped cut malaria transmission in Zanzibar, to the rest of the Tanzania’s malaria-affected regions.

Such spraying programmes aim to kill mosquitoes that land on the inside walls of homes. Spraying can protect homes for between four to ten months depending on the insecticide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO has approved 12 insecticides it considers safe for such spraying programmes, including DDT – a controversial endocrine disruptor that has proved one of the most effective ways to control mosquito populations but that has also been linked to environmental damage and health problems including cancer.

Mr Ndagabwene said spraying the chemical only indoors limited its environmental impact. WHO officials have said they believe the benefits of using the pesticide outweigh its risks. The Stockholm Convention bans the use of DDT but exempts countries that choose to use the chemical to control malaria.

Tanzania is one of the world’s worst malaria-affected countries, recording 14 to 18 million clinical cases annually and 60,000 deaths, 80 per cent of them in children under five years old, according to a 2010 malaria reduction plan put together by USAID.

Children under five and pregnant women are most affected by the disease, official health figures show. (AlertNet)

The author is a freelance writer based in Dar es Salaam


Jay Ambrose: Still wrong about DDT and malaria

February 27, 2011

Propagandists against Rachel Carson and — inexplicably — for DDT awoke a few weeks ago.  We’re seeing a flurry of op-eds, opinion pieces and other editorial placements making false claims for DDT, and against Rachel Carson, one of the science heroes of the 20th century.

The campaign of hoaxes, urging more and heavier use of DDT, and falsely impugning environmentalists, continues.  Alas.

Jay Ambrose of Scripps Howard News Service, still wrong about DDT

Jay Ambrose of Scripps Howard News Service, still wrong about DDT

Jay Ambrose used to be a full-time editor for the Scripps Howard newspapers.  Since he retired he writes occasional opinion pieces.  In the past three years or so he’s mentioned his desire to bring back the poison DDT, to poison Africa in the hope it might also get malaria, for example.

A few weeks ago he went after global warming with the same alacrity and lack of accurate information.

Let’s review a few facts about the history of DDT:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) carried on a super-ambitious campaign to eradicate malaria from the world starting in 1955.  It was a race against time — super malaria-fighter Fred Soper, who spearheaded early campaigns for the Rockefeller Foundation , understood that overuse of DDT in agriculture or any other venue could push malaria-carrying mosquitoes to develop resistance to DDT.  WHO’s campaign involved Indoor Residual Spraying of DDT, coating the walls of homes with the stuff; then with biting mosquitoes reduced, a careful campaign of medical care would cure human victims of the disease.  When the mosquitoes came roaring back at the end of the campaign, there would be no infected humans from whom the insects could get the parasite that causes the disease — voila! — no more malaria.  WHO lost the race; by 1965 Soper’s group already found resistant and immune mosquitoes in central Africa, and most of the nations in the Subsaharan Africa had not  been able to mount an anti-malaria campaign. DDT use in Africa was scaled back, therefore, and by 1969, WHO’s international board voted to abandon the campaign, made impossible to complete by abuse of DDT.
  • Seven years after WHO was forced to stop using DDT by DDT abuse, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT from use outdoors on agricultural crops, under the watchful eye of two federal courts who had previously determined DDT to be dangerous and uncontrollable in the wild. EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus short-circuited a total ban on DDT, however; his order specifically allowed U.S. manufacturers to continue making DDT, greatly increasing the amount of DDT available to any nation who wanted to use it to fight malaria or any other disease.
  • Even though DDT was cheap and plentiful, however, many African nations found it simply did not work anymore. Work continued to fight DDT through all other means including especially treating the disease in humans, and malaria incidence and deaths continued to decline.
  • At the end of the 1970s, the malaria parasites began to develop resistance to chloroquine and other traditional drugs used to cure humans of the stuff.  It was a shortage of drugs to treat humans that caused the uptick in malaria over a decade ago, not a lack of DDT.  Progress against malaria slowed for a few years, until artemisinin-based drugs were discovered to work against the disease, and means could be found to speed up production of the drug (originally from a Chinese plant, a member of the wormwood family).
  • By the turn of the century, it became clear that a miracle, one-punch solution to beat malaria is unlikely to be found.  Many nations turned to a method of malaria control including “integrated vector management,” which includes the use of pesticides (including DDT) in careful rotation to prevent mosquitoes from developing resistance or immunity to any one poison. This is the method championed by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book, Silent Spring.
  • At the time of the U.S. ban on DDT use on crops, annual malaria deaths ran about 2 million.  By 2000, that rate had been cut in half, to about 1 million annually.  Today, and since 2005, the annual death toll to malaria has been estimated by WHO to be under 900,000 — less than half the death rate in 1972 when the U.S. banned DDT use on crops, and a 75% reduction in deaths in 1960, when DDT use was at its peak.  Malaria deaths today are the lowest in human history.
  • DDT Malaria continues to be a priority disease, with added emphasis in the past decade with massive interventions funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the President’s Initiative on Malaria.   Bill Gates is regarded as a great optimist, but he says he is working to eradicate malaria from the world.   Key tools of the eradication campaign are bednets, which are cheaper and more effective than DDT, and integrated vector management.  The Gates Foundation campaign strikes continuing blows of great magnitude against the disease in those nations where it can work.

Few of these facts are acknowledged by Jay Ambrose, who wrongly claims that DDT had alone been the great vanquisher of malaria, and who claims that Africans, unduly swayed by a long-dead Rachel Carson, had failed to use DDT though they knew in their hearts it would save their children.

About once a year Ambrose trots out his misunderstandings of history, law and science, and slams Rachel Carson and those who banned DDT from cotton crops in Texas, falsely blaming them for malaria deaths in Africa.  His article of the past few weeks was picked up by the Detroit News.  Warning that our fight against global warming is as wrong-headed as saving the bald eagle from DDT, he wrote:

The main thing is to avoid what happened with DDT. Because of a ban to protect wildlife from the pesticide in this country, it became more scarce, and a consequence was its being employed sparingly if at all in wildlife-safe, indoor spraying to combat malaria in Africa. Though not always, DDT can be enormously effective in stopping the disease while posing minimal threats.

The estimate is that millions of African children died because of misplaced values and overreactions.

That’s worse than heartbreaking.
From The Detroit News:’t-overreact-to-possible-global-warming#ixzz1FDv1ZhkY

When I chided Ambrose for getting the facts wrong many months ago, he angrily promised to come back to this blog and provide evidence to make his case.  Of course, he never did.  There is no such evidence.

Then why does he continue to falsely indict Rachel Carson, William Ruckelshaus and EPA, and “environmentalists,” and wrongly urge the poisoning of Africa with DDT? 

I do not know.

Are his views on global warming similarly in error?  If history shows a trend, yes.

A fungus to fight malaria?

February 24, 2011

From a report in The Scientist Daily today:

Researchers have engineered transgenic fungi that drill into mosquitoes and kill the malaria parasite inside — the first tool of its kind — a February 25, 2011 study in Science reported.

Used in conjunction with traditional insecticide methods against mosquitoes, experts say this bioinsecticide has the potential to greatly improve malaria eradication efforts.

Mosquito infected with pathogenic fungus Metarhizium
Image: Courtesy of Raymond St. Leger

“This is a great example of trying to be innovative and use novel ways to look at this problem,” said Matt Thomas, a disease ecologist at Penn State who was not involved in the research. “It’s a move outside the existing insecticide paradigm, which has dominated parasite and vector control for 40-50 years.”

Read more: Fungus fights malaria? – The Scientist – Magazine of the Life Sciences
Difficulties in developing this solution for use in the field promise no quick results.  Testing remains to be done on the process — and then there is the issue of how to infect the proper species of mosquito in the field.  Additionally, since this process involves genetic modification, there will be a raft of government approvals to contend with before deploying it, if it ever is deployed.

Unfortunately, putting the new technique into action may not be an easy task. “There are already difficult challenges in taking forward biopesticide technology,” said Thomas. “Now we’re adding in the additional regulatory and ethical issues around genetically modified organisms. It’s not a hurdle we should just dismiss as unimportant.”

Researchers at several different places pursue very different routes to help ease malaria — not one of them involving an increase in DDT use.
  • Original article in Science:
    W. Fang et al., “Development of Transgenic Fungi That Kill Human Malaria Parasites in Mosquitoes,” Science 311: 1074-77 

USAID policy statement on DDT and malaria control

February 16, 2011

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a statement on their support for the use of DDT, where appropriate.  I don’t have a date — if you know the date, please let me know — but for the record, here’s the statement.

Those who claim the U.S. discourages the use of DDT to the detriment of African and Asians, are incorrect in their claims, once again.

USAID Support for Malaria Control in Countries Using DDT

USAID and Malaria

USAID activities for malaria control are based on a combination of internationally-accepted priority
interventions and country-level assessments for achieving the greatest public health impact, most
importantly, the reduction of child mortality (deaths).

Contrary to popular belief, USAID does not “ban” the use of DDT in its malaria control programs.
From a purely technical point of view in terms of effective methods of addressing malaria, USAID
and others have not seen DDT as a high priority component of malaria programs for practical reasons. In many cases, indoor residual spraying of DDT, or any other insecticide, is not costeffective and is very difficult to maintain. In most countries in Africa where USAID provides support to malaria control programs, it has been judged more cost-effective and appropriate to put US government funds into preventing malaria through insecticide-treated nets, which are every bit as effective in preventing malaria and more feasible in countries that do not have existing, strong indoor spraying programs.

USAID country missions provide support to national malaria control programs in about 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where the burden of malaria deaths is the highest. This support covers a broad range of activities, according to local priorities, resource availability and complementary activities by other donors and multinational institutions in each country.

International efforts to fight malaria are largely coordinated by Roll Back Malaria (RBM), a global partnership that includes leaders from across Africa, African health institutions, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, World Bank, UNDP, multi-lateral agencies, international, national and local NGOs, and the private sector. USAID is a key RBM partner. RBM has identified three priority interventions to reduce deaths and illness from malaria. These are consistent with USAID ’s priority areas for investment in malaria. These are:

1. Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITNs) for young children and pregnant women.
2. Prompt and Effective Treatment with an anti-malarial drug within 24 hours of onset of fever
3. Intermittent Preventive Therapy (IPT) for pregnant women as a part of the standard ante -
natal services.

Each of these interventions is backed by solid evidence of effectiveness under program conditions and effective in reducing the sickness and death from malaria, especially in Africa. For example, proper use of ITNs can reduce overall child deaths by up to 30% and significantly reduce sickness in children and pregnant women.

DDT in Malaria Programs

DDT is only used for malaria control through the spraying of interior house walls – Indoor Residual Spraying, or (IRS). A number of other insecticides can also be used for IRS, and are in many countries when those alternative insecticides are safer and equally effective. IRS, when efficiently conducted in appropriate settings, is considered to be as efficacious as ITNs in controlling malaria.

In most countries in Africa where USAID provides support to malaria control programs, it has been judged more cost-effective and appropriate to put US government funds into other malaria control activities than IRS. USAID has funded non-IRS support to malaria control programs in countries in which DDT is being used, for example, Eritrea, Zambia, Ethiopia and Madagascar.

USAID regulations (22 CFR 216) require an assessment of potential environmental impacts of supporting either the procurement or use of pesticides in any USAID assisted project, but if the evidence assembled in preparing such an environmental review indicates that DDT is the only effective alternative and it could be used safely such as interior wall spraying undertaken with WHO application protocols, then that option would be considered. The U.S. government is signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (the POPS treaty), which specifically allows an exemption for countries to use DDT for public health use in vector control programs, as long as WHO guidelines are followed and until a safer and equally effective alternative is found. The US voted in favor of this exemption.

There are a few situations in which IRS with DDT is generally found to be appropriate. For example, in South Africa when certain mosquitoes developed resistance to the major alternative class of insecticides, the synthetic pyrethroids, DDT was used. Such situations are relatively rare, however, and demonstrate the value of the provisions of the POPs Treaty, which restrict and document use of DDT, but provide for its use when appropriate.

USAID Interventions

USAID is emphasizing prevention via mosquito nets dipped in pyrethriods – a synthetic insecticide originally found in chrysanthemums. USAID is supporting an innovative Africa regional public-private venture for the commercial distribution of ITNs. In 2003 USAID’s NetMark Project launched insecticide-treated net products in Zambia, Senegal, Ghana, and Nigeria selling more than 600,000 nets and 500,000 insecticide re-treatments during its first five months of operation. In 2004, NetMark will launch in at least five more countries in Africa.

USAID also invests in development of new tools for malaria control, particularly vaccine development and the response to increasing drug resistance. USAID is funding projects to discover and dispense new drugs such as Arteminisin-based combination therapies (ACT), which have proven to be more effective against malaria than the traditional drugs chloroquine and mefloquine. USAID also supports the development of new policies and strategies for use of these new therapies, as well as the improvement of both public and private health systems. Since 1998, the agency has aggressively supported the development of the combination therapy as a safe and effective alternative treatment.  In addition, USAID and its global partners in RBM are working to ensure sustained financing of the drugs. USAID has played a critical role in drawing attention to the spread of drug resistance in Africa and in assisting countries in effectively treating malaria, including the use of combination therapy.

In summary, USAID directs its support for malaria control programs based on evidence for maximum impact on reducing child deaths. Based on this criterion, for most countries with USAID support for malaria control in sub-Saharan Africa, indoor residual spraying (regardless of the choice of insecticide) has not been judged to be the most effective use of US government funds. USAID continues to plan its support for national malaria control programs in sub -Saharan Africa on a country by country basis, and will continue to strive to use US taxpayer funds as efficiently and effectively as possible with the most appropriate tools at our disposal to reduce deaths from malaria.

I suspect that statement is dated.  Here is a site at USAID that details the policy on DDT, malaria and mosquitoes, and includes a different statement under the same title as the above:

USAID and Malaria

USAID activities for malaria control are based on a combination of internationally accepted priority interventions and country-level assessments for achieving the greatest public health impact, most importantly, the reduction of child mortality (deaths).

USAID backs a comprehensive approach to prevent and treat malaria. This includes:

  • Spraying with insecticides (“indoor residual spraying,” or IRS) in communities: IRS is the organized, timely spraying of an insecticide on the inside walls of houses or dwellings. It is designed to interrupt malaria transmission by killing adult female mosquitoes when they enter houses and rest on the walls after feeding, but before they can transmit the infection to another person. IRS has been used for decades and has helped eliminate malaria from many areas of the world, particularly where the mosquitoes are indoor-resting and where malaria is seasonally transmitted. USAID and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) activities include conducting environmental assessments, training spray teams, procuring insecticide and equipment, and developing and evaluating spraying activities.
  • Insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs): Bednets treated with insecticide have been proved highly effective in killing mosquitoes. In addition, the netting acts as a protective barrier.  Consistently sleeping under an ITN can decrease severe malaria by 45 percent, reduce premature births by 42 percent, and cut all-cause child mortality by 17 to 63 percent. PMI is expanding access to free and highly subsidized nets while also creating commercial markets in African countries.
  • Lifesaving drugs: Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are the most effective and rapidly acting drugs currently available for treating malaria.  PMI activities include purchasing ACT drugs; setting up management and logistics systems for their distribution through the public and private sectors; and training health care workers and community caregivers in their use.
  • Intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women (IPTp): Each year, more than 30 million African women living in malaria-endemic areas become pregnant and are at risk for malaria. IPTp involves the administration of at least two doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) to a pregnant woman through antenatal care services.  The treatment helps to protect pregnant women against maternal anemia and low birthweight, which contributes to between 100,000 and 200,000 infant deaths annually in Africa.  PMI activities include purchasing SP, training health care workers in administering the drug, and providing information about IPTp to pregnant women.


USAID supports indoor residual spraying (IRS) with DDT as an effective malaria prevention strategy in tropical Africa in those specific situations where it is judged to be the best insecticide for IRS both epidemiologically and entomologically and based on host-country policy. Its use for IRS to prevent malaria is an allowable exception under the Stockholm Convention – also known as the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty or POPs Treaty – when used in accordance with WHO guidelines and when safe, effective, and affordable alternatives are not available. For a variety of reasons, some countries do not conduct IRS or have not registered DDT for use in their malaria control programs.  The reasons may include the epidemiological situation of the country, the organizational capacity of the program, or in some cases, concerns related to their agricultural export market.  The Stockholm Convention aims to eventually end the use of all POPs, including DDT.

The determination of which of the WHO-approved insecticides to use for USAID’s IRS programs is made in coordination with the host-country malaria control program, with the primary objective of preventing as many malaria infections and deaths as possible.  That determination is based on cost-effectiveness; on entomological factors; on local building materials; and on host-country policy.  USAID adheres to strict environmental guidelines, approval processes, and procedures for the use of DDT and all other WHO-approved insecticides in its malaria control programs. As part of our environmental assessments and safer use action plans, we help countries build capacity for safe and judicious use of all chemicals used in their malaria control programs, including DDT

The fact is that DDT is more effective and less expensive than many other insecticides in many situations; as a result, it is a very competitive choice for IRS programs.   DDT specifically has an advantage over other insecticides when long persistence is needed on porous surfaces, such as unpainted mud walls, which are found in many African communities, particularly in rural or semi-urban areas.

USAID has never had a “policy” as such either “for” or “against” DDT for IRS.  The real change in the past two years has been a new interest and emphasis on the use of IRS in general, – with DDT or any other insecticide – as an effective malaria prevention strategy in tropical Africa.  (Recent successful applications of IRS, particularly in the southern Africa region, have also contributed to the keen interest among donors and among African malaria control programs.)  For example, in fiscalyYear 2005, USAID supported less than $1 million of IRS in Africa, with programs utilizing insecticides purchased by the host government or another donor.  For fiscal year 2007, in the PMI and in other bilateral programs, USAID will support over $20 million in IRS programs in Africa, including the direct purchase of insecticides.  This dramatic increase in the scale of our IRS programs overall is the greatest factor in DDT’s recent prominence in USAID programs.

USAID Issue Briefs

President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)

Update: If you’re here from a religious discussion group that veered off into malaria and DDT, you’d do well to use this site’s search feature, and search for DDT.  Most of the statements from those favoring DDT in your discussion are pure, buncombe, junk science, as this site and several others reveal.


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