Follow labelling, storage protocols
As we continue to promote the safe use of pesticides, I welcome another observance of Pesticides Awareness Week and thank the team at the Pesticides Control Authority for their continued advocacy and focus on public education. The incorrect use and storage of pesticides remain a threat to the well-being of many Jamaicans and it is important that we keep stressing the message of pesticide safety.
Pesticides pose a significant threat to health. In 2013 there were 615 confirmed cases of accidental poisoning (all agents) reported by the National Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health. This represented an eight per cent increase compared to the 567 confirmed cases reported in 2012. eighty one per cent or 500 of these cases occurred in children under five years old and 62 per cent or 383 occurred in children two years and under. There was one death reported in 2013. Pesticides were responsible for 16 per cent of poisonings in 2013.
this year's theme
Improper storage and use of pesticides have been identified as the major causes of accidental poisoning and so it is imperative that we start paying greater attention to how we store and use these poisonous agents especially in instances where there are children at risk. I therefore welcome this year's theme 'Pesticides: Buy as required, use before expired' as this appeals to us to only obtain what we need to use, and use as quickly as possible, so that there is less of a need to store pesticides, especially in the home.
I urge persons to also properly follow labelling instructions and storage protocols if they have to store excess amounts of the chemicals to reduce the likelihood of accidental consumption. For example, persons should ensure that they do not store pesticides in containers designated for food such as juice bottles or boxes and do not store pesticides near areas where food is prepared and/or stored.
This week is a great opportunity for us to further educate the population so that they can be empowered to protect their health and the health and well-being of children. I would like to thank the Pesticides Control Authority again for their continued good work and vigilance, and wish you all the best for a successful week of activities.
Dr Fenton Ferguson
Minister of Health