The media have been negligent in noting that Senator Bill Frist, the new majority leader with a career as a medical doctor and heart surgeon, has made pronouncements on health issues that sound good but are just plain wrong. A doctor is supposed to save lives, and that includes the Senate’s only doctor. But Frist takes positions that fail to stop millions of needless deaths.
One health problem is the emergence of deadly insect-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus. The Washington Post notes that the virus has been spreading across the U.S., killing at least 241 people in 2002 and infecting many thousands more. Two cases of malaria were discovered in Virginia in August. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 1 million people die from malaria each year. Children under the age of five represent at least 75 percent of that figure. The Frist response, which is politically correct, has been to defer action on bringing back DDT, which is effective against such diseases but has been demonized by environmentalists. On September 24, 2002, Frist issued a statement at a congressional hearing on West Nile Virus in which he acknowledged that DDT “was initially used with great effect to combat malaria, typhus, and the other insect-borne human diseases” but was “banned by the FDA when the director at that time determined that the continued massive use of DDT posed unacceptable risks to the environment and potential harm to human health.”
In fact, DDT was banned not by the director of the FDA but the EPA. William Ruckelshaus, the EPA administrator in the Nixon administration, disregarded the scientific evidence and banned DDT for political reasons. Frist said that, “Since that time, we have not developed a replacement for DDT. We have become complacent, assuming that there would be no need to continue reducing the insect population. We can no longer be complacent.” Frist and others have been complacent for decades as tens of millions have died. The New York Times, in a recent editorial, conceded that DDT has to be brought back to save lives.
The Frist response was to join with liberal Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) in sponsoring a bill to spend more money on an anti-malaria vaccine. This is laudable, but such a vaccine has been in development over the last 15 years and the Malaria Vaccine Initiative concedes that there has “never been a vaccine developed against a complex multi-cellular parasite” such as the organism causing malaria.
Frist, who also wants to fight AIDS, toured Africa with rock singer Bono and praised U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s call for a global multibillion dollar fund to fight the disease. I informed Frist in a letter more than one year ago that the U.N. now admits (after covering it up for years) that U.N. “peacekeepers” spread AIDS to Africa and Asia, and that new HIV infections are said to be disproportionately heavy in African countries where the U.N. is conducting several peacekeeping operations. U.N. soldiers are blamed in a Danish documentary, “And the U.N. Came,” for creating an AIDS epidemic in Cambodia, which has the highest rate of AIDS in Asia. Annan, who was director of peacekeeping at the time, is now presiding over the U.N. “solution”?a condom-a-day for U.N. soldiers. Some experts say the anti-AIDS drugs being sought by Annan for mass distribution in Africa could actually mutate the HIV virus, make an AIDS vaccine ineffective, and spread the disease further.
Frist, who has written a book on bioterrorism, is recognized as an “expert” on health issues, but he failed to research the reasons for the ban on DDT, which was based on “junk” science. He also has yet to answer the serious questions about the U.N. role in the spread of AIDs.