Pesticide poisoning, a major cause of concern in Sri Lanka

In developing countries, pesticides have a vital part to play both in agriculture and in public health. However, in tropical regions pesticides are a particular problem, though it helps in controlling human disease. It is estimated that in the developing countries, approximately 150 million clinical cases of malaria occur annually while schistosomiasis and filariasis each account for nearly 250 million cases each year. Though, pesticides are essential for the control of all of these diseases, however the uses of pesticides also result in various health problems. One such country which is suffering from pesticide poisoning is Sri Lanka.

Pesticide poisoning is a major health problem in Sri Lanka. It has been found in several agricultural districts that majority of death in government hospitals is due to pesticide poisoning. Young adults sometimes took to pesticide intentionally as an attempt to suicide. Occupational exposure is also the cause for most of the deaths. In irrigation area in Sri Lanka, high incidence of serious pesticide poisoning are observed and this is taking place due to easy availability and widespread use of highly hazardous pesticides. The recurrent use of highly hazardous pesticides in high concentration is irrational and it poses serious health and financial risks to the farmers. Pesticides are also readily available in rural farming households and the sales promotion activities and credit facilities promoted the excessive pesticide use. Also the method of spraying pesticides under the local conditions is risky and is detrimental to health.

Many developing countries lack the resources to establish and maintain the necessary surveillance program and to provide a practical tool for more accurately estimating the incidence of acute pesticide poisoning. They also lack the resources to identify where problems exist to stimulate better management and control actions. Education and training of farmers are the two strong methods through which the safe use of pesticide can be imparted and promoted for the benefit of the populace. Along with this, there should be a restriction in availability of most hazardous pesticides for the health benefit of the people. And a long term effect will be to use an alternative non-chemical method of pest control.

Though several challenges exist in the way of controlling deaths by pesticides but if proper methods and better management and actions are undertaken, the situation can be controlled for the betterment of the populace.

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