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Experts warn on use of ‘hazardous’ chemicals in farming

By Sammy Waweru September 17th, 2023 2 min read

Medical experts have issued a warning regarding the use of hazardous chemicals in farming.

According to the experts, a significant number of lifestyle diseases diagnosed in hospitals and health facilities are linked to people’s exposure to these chemicals.

A very close interaction is happening between the environment and chemicals used in farms, states Dr John Ngigi, a Senior Director – Prime Care Centre at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Apart from illnesses caused by food stuff consumed and have been produced using hazardous pesticides and herbicides to eradicate destructive insect pests and diseases, Dr Ngigi regrets that farmers and those within the farm environment are falling victim of getting in contact with the sprays.

“There is a profound interaction between agriculture and farm chemicals. Many chronic diseases that doctors are currently treating in hospitals have been unequivocally linked to agriculture and the substances used in crop production,” he states.

These alarming concerns were raised during the recent relaunch of the Poison Information Center (PIC) in Nairobi.

Unveiled in 2005 to address and create public awareness on consumption of poisonous substances as well as their exposure, the facility is run by aak-GROW\CropLife Kenya in partnership with Kenyatta National Hospital.

Located at KNH, PIC responds to emergency calls from across the country, providing first aid guidance and referring critical cases to nearby health facilities.

In an exclusive interview with Nairobi News, Patrick Amuyunzu, the Chair of aak-Grow/Crop Life Kenya, emphasized the mission of PIC, stating, “Our primary goal is to safeguard lives and protect the environment.”

Since its inception, PIC has played a pivotal role in addressing issues related to poisonous substances in Kenya, including snake bites, which are prevalent in Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) regions.

During the relaunch event, the collaborating organizations, along with key strategic partners, unveiled initiatives aimed at enhancing their operations.

They include expanding PIC’s capabilities for more comprehensive data collection to inform future decisions and innovations, implementing a filtering mechanism to distinguish agricultural-related inquiries from poison cases requiring medical attention at KNH, and extending their services to additional medical facilities.

The relaunch event brought together key stakeholders from the Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Environment, regulatory bodies, academia, and other partners.

It underscored the importance of collaboration in ensuring consumer health and ultimately reducing poison-related fatalities.

In a concerning development, it was reported that some unregistered pesticides, not authorized for use in Kenya’s farming, have entered the country.

Farmers were criticized for concealing these cases and refusing to disclose the specific chemicals involved.

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