Ground-breaking malaria vaccine rollout and DDT Expert Group recommendations leave room for countries to stop relying on DDT for vector control

12th October 2021; Geneva, Switzerland

Ground-breaking malaria vaccine rollout and DDT Expert Group recommendations leave room for countries to stop relying on DDT for vector control.

Marking what is described by Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as “a historic moment” and “a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” the World Health Organization (WHO) is now recommending the widespread use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. The recommendation is based on the positive results of an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, which has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019. Extensive use of the vaccine could lead to the eventual eradication of malaria, a disease that claims the lives of more than 260,000 children annually, in Africa alone.

Until now, malaria has been tackled primarily with vector control methods, such as the use of insecticides containing DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), an organic compound with chlorine. Sixty years ago, in 1961, American biologist Rachel Carson brought the issue of DDT toxicity to public awareness with her seminal book “Silent Spring”. Since then, the international community has been working on developing a safe, effective, and affordable alternative to DDT, with these efforts currently led by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the Global Alliance for Alternatives to DDT.

Until such an alternative is identified, the Stockholm Convention allows the use of DDT for public health interventions targeting disease vector control. The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions maintains a DDT Register listing all Parties that produce and/or use DDT for purposes that are deemed acceptable under the Stockholm Convention. The DDT Expert Group is tasked with assessing scientific, technical, environmental, and economic information related to DDT.

In December 2020, the DDT Expert Group of the Stockholm Convention recommended that additional steps be taken towards phasing out DDT. Specifically, the Group recommends that all 18 Parties currently in the DDT Register review their needs of DDT, and consider re-registering or withdrawing from the list by the end of 2022. The Expert Group also recommends that for those Parties that are still listed in the DDT Register as at 1 January 2023, consultations be engaged on a possible phase-out plan and, further recommends that from 1st January 2023 there no longer be a possibility for a Party to register for the acceptable purpose of use of DDT.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Stockholm Convention, these developments signal an opportune time for a change in the way the United Nations and the international community as a whole approach the use of what are known as “forever chemicals”, indicating a sense of urgency and mobilisation towards protecting human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants.


The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004, is a global treaty requiring its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment, to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to POPs can lead to serious adverse health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. Given that these chemicals can be transported over long distances, no one government acting alone can protect its population or its environment from POPs. For more information on the Stockholm Convention and POPs, see:

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste management, in order to protect human health and the environment. See for more information and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

For more information on the Stockholm Convention, please contact: Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention, Geneva: +41-79-2333218,

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