KINGSTON — National Poison Prevention Week 2011 will be observed May 22-28 under the theme, “Poison Prevention, Everybody’s Business”.
Poison Information Coordinator, at the Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh told JIS News that based on the recent rise in cases of ackee poisoning; this theme was chosen to highlight the dangers of poisoning and to encourage persons to become actively involved in ensuring the safety of children and adults in their community.
“We realize that poison is affecting just about everyone, its not just affecting the young people or the old, so we want everyone to understand posion prevention strategies,” Mrs. Ballingsingh explained.
“We want to find a specific time for persons to think about the incidences of poisoning that are happening in Jamaica and also to know that there is somewhere that you can call to assist you to manage it and to give you information when you call about poisoning,” she added.
A week of activities to mark the week begins on Sunday, May 22 with a Poison Prevention Seminar, at Lecture Theatre 23, College of Health Sciences, University of Technology in Kingston, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The seminar, which targets doctors, nurses, public health practitioners, labarotory personnel, teachers, users of pesticides among other key personnel, will focus on four topics – Alcohol Poisoning, Salt Petre Poisoning, Labelling of Pesticide Containers and the Epidemiology of Poisioning.
Presenters will include Dr. Mearle Barrett, Toxicologist and Retired Doctor of the Ministry of Health; Dr. Jean Johnson, Consultant in the Accident and Emergency Department, University Hospital of the West Indies; Dr. Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, Director, Information and Research at the National Council on Drug Abuse; Dr. Tonia Dawkins, Medical Epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health and Mr. Michael Ramsay, Registrar at the Pesticides Control Authority of Jamaica.
On Tuesday, May 24, a Poison Education session will be held at the Medical Library of the University of the West Indies Library. A Knowledge, Belief and Attitude Survey will also be conducted.
The purpose of this survey, Mrs. Ballingsingh explained “is to really find out what persons know about poisoning; if they know how to deal with it and if they know about the Poison Information Network."
Similar information sessions and surveys will be held at the UTech Library on Wednesday, May 25 and at the Tom Redcam Library on Friday, May 27.
The main activity for National Poison Prevention Week will take place on Thursday May 26, when CARPIN in collaboration with the National Council on Drug Abuse will host an Open Day at the University of Technology’s Scupture Park, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
This will feature a creative display of posters and exhibits as well as information sessions to highlight the importance of poison prevention, different categories of poisoning and poison prevention tips. Persons interested in hosting Poison Prevention events are also invited to this Open Day, as well as the general public.
Up to April 9, there were 129 cases of accidental poisoning reported in Jamaica. The ingestion of bleach was the leading cause, followed by pharmaceuticals and pesticides.
“We should try not to take these pills before children because children, especially the younger ones usually see this and think they are candy and they usually follow the parents and take them,” CARPIN’s Poison Information Coordinator explained.
Parents are also urged to store household chemicals in a safe place, away from children. “We advise persons to avoid storing chemicals in bottles with food labeling. They are advised to take the food labeling off the bottle and use a marker to correct the labeling,” Mrs. Ballingsingh said.
For further information on poison prevention, persons may call CARPIN, toll free at 1888-POISON or 927-1680-8 ext. 2300.
By LATOYA PENNANT, JIS PR Officer