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Med Vet Entomol. 2000 Dec;14(4):345-54.

Cost-comparison of DDT and alternative insecticides for malaria control.

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American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC, USA.


In anti-malaria operations the use of DDT for indoor residual spraying has declined substantially over the past 30years, but this insecticide is still considered valuable for malaria control, mainly because of its low cost relative to alternative insecticides. Despite the development of resistance to DDT in some populations of malaria vector Anopheles mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae), DDT remains generally effective when used for house-spraying against most species of Anopheles, due to excitorepellency as well as insecticidal effects. A 1990 cost comparison by the World Health Organization (WHO) found DDT to be considerably less expensive than other insecticides, which cost 2 to 23 times more on the basis of cost per house per 6 months of control. To determine whether such a cost advantage still prevails for DDT, this paper compares recent price quotes from manufacturers and WHO suppliers for DDT and appropriate formulations of nine other insecticides (two carbamates, two organophosphates and five pyrethroids) commonly used for residual house-spraying in malaria control programmes. Based on these 'global' price quotes, detailed calculations show that DDT is still the least expensive insecticide on a cost per house basis, although the price appears to be rising as DDT production declines. At the same time, the prices of pyrethroids are declining, making some only slightly more expensive than DDT at low application dosages. Other costs, including operations (labour), transportation and human safety may also increase the price advantages of DDT and some pyrethroids vs. organophosphates and carbamates, although possible environmental impacts from DDT remain a concern. However, a global cost comparison may not realistically reflect local costs or effective application dosages at the country level. Recent data on insecticide prices paid by the health ministries of individual countries showed that prices of particular insecticides can vary substantially in the open market. Therefore, the most cost-effective insecticide in any given country or region must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Regional coordination of procurement of public health insecticides could improve access to affordable products.

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