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DDT

Managing malaria

Author(s): V P Sharma
Issue Date: May 15, 2001
With the emergence of vector-borne diseases, population pressure and unhealthy living conditions, a very focussed approach and long-term planning is needed in disease control. If all human-made changes and pressure of unscientific exploitation of natural resources are not halted, the planet Earth will not remain a habitable place.

Award for ecosecurity

Issue Date: Apr 30, 2001
vinod Prakash Sharma, an expert on malaria, has bagged the Green Scientist Award 2001 for his work on bioenvironmental control of malaria. The Centre for Science and Environment (cse), a New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, has instituted the award that carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

Pesticide in fish

Issue Date: Apr 15, 2001
ddt (dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane) content in fish stocks from Ganga is 16,000 times more than the permissible limit. This was revealed during a study conducted by R K Sinha, a senior investigator of the Ganga pollution-monitoring project. The Patna University, Bihar, is coordinating the project. "I found that the fish contained very high concentrations of the pesticide. This can prove hazardous to human health when consumed for a prolonged period," says Sinha.

Awardee 2001

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2001
Malaria affects the most vulnerable: children of poor families in developing countries face the greatest risk. The chemical pesticides used to combat the disease in the past 50 years or so pose grave dangers to the environment and human health (see box: Problem ). Any solution that can help the most vulnerable people to get out of this treadmill, in which the cure becomes worse than the disease, is of no mean value.

Solution

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2001
At least 35 people died of malaria in 1983 in Nadiad taluka of Gujarat's Kheda district. The Malaria Research Centre, with V P Sharma as director, began its work on bioenvironmental control here. This was a response to the failure of the National Malaria Eradication Programme (NMEP), which was all about residual insecticide sprays and chemotherapy to prevent the resurgence of malaria. Three decades of success with this approach was followed by three kinds of resistance. l Parasites were becoming resistant to drugs.

THE JURY

V RAMALINGASWAMI (Chairperson of The Jury) national research professor, and emeritus professor at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and president, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi

Basis of rating

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2001
Recognition received: This comprised awards won and the number of scientific publications. Although the dte-cse award is aimed at highlighting unrecognised work, the credibility of the work undertaken and number of awards won was considered important. In terms of publications, the number of papers as well as citations of the work were considered.

Quality of Research: Only a fig leaf

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2001
I n 1996-97, the government of India claims that it spent Rs 333.8 crore on protection and sustainable use of the environment. Our research shows that in 1998-99, the government spent some Rs 474.81 crore. These may be inadequate sums of money, but by themselves they are not small. How well is this money being spent to protect the health of our ecosystems, the country's biodiversity and human beings?

Problem

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2001
Malaria kills 3,000 people every day across the world, over one million people each year. Three out of four victims are children. Over 275 million cases occur each year. The disease is a serious public health problem in India -- over three million cases are reported each year. Unofficial figures claim the number is several times the official figures as thousands of cases aren't reported. In most parts of the country, periodic epidemics of malaria occur every five to seven years.

EXPERTSPEAK

Ecological Security is all pervasive, all encompassing. It is not merely the flora, fauna, air, water and land. It is whole economics. One cannot separate Financial Security and Ecological Security. But we need to paraphrase the term. It should not be used as the other abused word -- sustainable. Everybody talks about it but no one knows what it means. Hardly any efforts are made to achieve Ecological Security in India. It is the apathy of the government. The government has the funds. But It's just not interested. The quality of space research is very good.
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