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World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has praised South Africa's malaria control programme, saying the country's use of indoor residual spraying has reduced malaria episodes.

Wolfowitz visited the village of Mamitwa in South Africa's northern Limpopo province ― a region of high malaria incidence ― last week (15 March).

"One of the reasons why I wanted to come here is that this area has achieved one of the most dramatic resolutions in malaria prevalence of any area I know," he told the South African Press Association.

South Africa has stopped using the recommended insecticide-treated mosquito nets, in favour of indoor spraying of the previously banned chemical Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT).

DDT is an insecticide that kills mosquitoes carrying the malaria-causing parasite. It is also a persistent organic pollutant, banned or being phased out by 143 countries under the Stockholm Convention, a global treaty designed to protect human health.

The World Health Organization announced support for DDT as a malaria control measure in September (see WHO backs controversial chemical for malaria control), but its use remains controversial due to toxic effects on people and the environment.

Wolfowitz says he will consider taking South Africa's approach to other malaria-affected countries. He committed around US$48 million for malaria control in 14 African countries, which could increase, depending on success.

However, Crispin Kaposhi, an insect pest management and pesticide toxicology consultant in Zambia, said that African countries should stop the continued use of DDT and commit resources towards integrated approaches and enhanced community participation in malaria control.

Malaria affects approximately 400 million people every year and is the cause of between one and three million deaths annually, mostly among young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

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