The time has come and it is happening, the Cubans are finally bringing the revolution to Africa. To succeed however, the Cubans had to change the revolutionary strategy from the elimination of the bourgeoisie to a more prosaic, but certainly more beneficial objective of the elimination of the mosquitos so that malaria will no longer exploit and kill the masses.
The method is simple, the Cubans have invented a system of biolarvicides that will simply eat up the mosquito eggs and the Venezuelan comrades have brought in the money. It was the last gift of Hugo Chavez to Africa before his death.
According to Lenin, politics begins where the people are. In Africa, the people live in malaria-infested zones and are being killed by malaria. Each year, malaria kills one million African children.
Indeed, every day, 3,000 children on the continent die from malaria. Millions of working hours is lost to the disease each year and our medical facilities are inundated with those suffering from this preventable disease.
Malaria is a central factor in the vicious cycle of the reproduction of poverty on the continent and it is for this reason that ECOWAS has taken up the issue of eliminating the vector that causes this devastating disease in our region.
Concerned Africans have however noted with consternation that in the areas in the West that suffered from mosquito infestation and malaria, the policy adopted was to eliminate the mosquitoes through the use of chemical insecticides such as DDT.
These substances had negative impact on the environment but the decision taken was that in spite of the impact, it was strategically in the interest of the countries concerned to eliminate the disease at whatever cost. The outcome is that today, malaria is a major problem only in the poorest areas in Africa and Asia.
Over the past decade, billions of dollars have been invested by the West through the Global Fund, the Bill Gates Foundation and other agencies in the war against malaria. However, since 1995, the West has taken the decision that Africa must not eliminate malaria; it should only try to control it through insecticide treated nets and anti malaria drugs. Everybody knows that this approach can only reduce the problem and never solve it.
The big question is why is the West so obstinately against the elimination of malaria and why is the United Nations system keeping quiet? Why can’t Africans dream about, but more importantly, work towards the elimination of malaria? Lenin teaches us that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation and one path towards a revolutionary situation is when imperialism seeks to exploit you to death.
In the case of malaria, the choice of the West is that conditions for money making through industries making mosquito nets and anti-malaria drugs is more important than the lives of one million African children.
What is revealing about the present context is that science has developed to a stage where the technical capacity to eliminate malaria through the use of chemical larvicides is available. Such chemical agents that could be used include the following. Methoprene, which is an agent that is specific to mosquitoes and prevents the normal maturation of insect larvae.
Other agents are monomolecular films which are low toxicity pesticides that spread a thin film on the surface of water, making it difficult for mosquito larvae pupae and emerging adults to attach to water surface, causing them to drown There are also monomolecular oils, similar to monomolecular films, coating on the surface of water that drowns larvae, pupae and emerging adult mosquitoes.
The oils are specially derived from petroleum distillates. The position of the West however is that chemicals are bad for the environment.
It was in this context that the Cubans intervened to develop effective and safe biolarvicides that can protect the environment and eliminate malaria. These biolarvicides are bacteria known in biology as Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus spaericus are sprayed into breeding sites.
Mosquito larvae ingest the bacteria, which then disrupts their mechanisms and kills them. This technique has been successfully used to control malaria in Vietnam. In addition, microbial larvicides can be safely added to drinking water and in environmentally sensitive areas, as they do not persist or accumulate in the environment or in body tissues and are not toxic to animals and crops according to WHO.
The West, Bill Gates, the Global Fund are however resolutely against the strategy of elimination of the mosquito. Here again, we call on the teachings of Vladimir Lenin who had explained that there are no morals in politics, there is only experience. The African experience over the past two decades is that the West is committed to reducing malaria but does not want it eliminated. ECOWAS therefore took the decision to listen to the Cubans and the Venezuelans who have offered to build production factories that will supply the agents and also develop modes application of biolarvicides in Africa and one such factory is currently being built in Port Harcourt.
Under the agreement with ECOWAS, Cuba will provide technical support by transferring the existing and effective technology for the setting up of factories for the production and application of biolarvicides for vector control. Venezuela will provide financial support for the setting up of three factories in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Iviore. ECOWAS will provide political advocacy and commitment needed to achieve the elimination of malaria in West Africa by 2020.
It is imperative that this revolution succeeds especially now that the World Health Organisation has accepted that the application of biolarvicides is ecologically sound, sustainable, safe and indeed recommended. The Cubans are going to shame the West in Africa.
We must therefore commend ECOWAS for embracing this campaign for the elimination of malaria at its 42nd Summit in Yamoussoukro, Cote D’Iviore in February 2013l. The Resolution provided one of the latest indications of the coherent commitment to confront the challenge of malaria in a coordinated manner realising that diseases have no respect for borders and to ensure a regional response to this challenge.
The regional response mechanism has recently been strengthened with a vector control programme that will complement the existing national and regional strategies as part of the arsenal for ensuring the realisation of the 2020 deadline.
As I mentioned above, Malaria elimination is not a new strategy. It was first implemented way back in 1955 by the World Health Organisation, which decided at that time that it should not be done in sub-Saharan Africa.
They used indoor residual spraying, with DDT, alongside case management to eliminate it in the West. Now that we know that fact, we can close the column with yet another quote from Vladimir Lenin, without revolutionary theory, there can be not revolutionary movement. Thanks to our Cuba and Venezuelan comrades for providing this revolutionary theory called biolarvicides.
Dr. Ibrahim, a political scientist and advocacy expert, was former chief executive at the Centre of Democracy and Development, CDD. He is now a development consultant in Abuja from where he writes.