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Action plan for the reduction of reliance on DDT in disease vector control, WHO/SDE/WSH/01.5


On 22 May 2001 the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants was signed. Depending on the expedience of ratification by governments of the signatory Member States, the Convention is to take effect in the coming three to five years.

Concerning DDT, one of the twelve POPs chemicals included in this Convention, Annex B, part II reads, inter alia, that:

  • The production and use of DDT shall be eliminated except for Parties [to the Conference] that have notified the Secretariat of their intention to produce and/or use it.
  • Each Party that produces and/or uses DDT shall restrict such production and/or use for disease vector control in accordance with the World Health Organization recommendations and guidelines on the use of DDT and when locally safe, effective and affordable alternatives are not available to the Party in question.
  • Commencing at its first meeting, and at least every three years thereafter, the Conference of the Parties shall, in consultation with the World Health Organization; evaluate the continued need for DDT for disease vector control on the basis of available scientific, technical, environmental and economic information [] .

The text of the Convention thus recognizes the urgent and immediate needs of a number of Member States to maintain their reliance on DDT for indoor residual spraying to control insect vectors of particularly malaria, for current lack of effective and/or affordable alternatives. It also recognizes the need to accelerate research and development of safe and effective alternatives to DDT with a view to improving Member States' vector control programmes on the medium term, through the adoption and use of such alternatives. And it recognizes, lastly, the need to work towards a longer-term goal of reducing reliance of vector control programmes on pesticides in general and DDT in particular (in line with World Health Assembly Resolution 50.13) to safeguard ecosystem and human health alike from the insidious effects of POPs pesticides.

The DDT Action Plan of the World Health Organization, presented in this document, can now be implemented to its full extent, in the spirit of the POPs Convention. The Action Plan emerged from an expert consultation held in 1999 when the POPs negotiations were in full swing. Some activity areas, related to the advocacy and information dissemination role of WHO during the negotiations, have been duly implemented, but for most areas, action will now start, in the wake of the signing ceremony in Stockholm. The technical support provided by the members of the WHO Intercluster Working Group on DDT and the resources provided by the Roll Back Malaria Secretariat towards the completion of the report of the 1999 meeting are gratefully acknowledged.

  Dr Richard Helmer
Protection of the Human Environment

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