JIS News

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  • One of the country’s leading researchers in the area of poison control in Jamaica says public education efforts will need to be intensified, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, to promote best practices in the informal chemical industry.
  • This would include training for retailers of household chemicals to teach them about packaging and storage, under the Global Harmonisation System of Classification of Labelling of Chemicals, by which Caribbean countries are expected to abide.
  • Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Poison Information Coordinator at the Caribbean Poison Information Network, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, who undertook a study, explained the rationale for, and some of the findings and recommendations of the research.

One of the country’s leading researchers in the area of poison control in Jamaica says public education efforts will need to be intensified, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, to promote best practices in the informal chemical industry.

This would include training for retailers of household chemicals to teach them about packaging and storage, under the Global Harmonisation System of Classification of Labelling of Chemicals, by which Caribbean countries are expected to abide.

Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Poison Information Coordinator at the Caribbean Poison Information Network, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, who undertook a study, explained the rationale for, and some of the findings and recommendations of the research.

“The study was done to identify the determinants of unintentional childhood poisoning by household chemicals, based on the knowledge of parents about the storage and dangers of household chemicals, observed behaviour for the storage and an evaluation of the storage areas using an observation guide” she said.

She added that the qualitative study entailed the interviewing and observation of 360 participants across four parishes – St. Thomas, Kingston, St. Catherine and Westmoreland.

The Researcher explained that the study revealed that containers in which household chemicals were being purchased and stored are a major problem that contribute to the poisoning of children in the 0-5 age group.  

Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, who won the award for the best poster for her research at the 2019 staging of the National Health Research Conference, said that the recommendation is a multidisciplinary approach involving public education and training that would be undergirded by public health policies for behaviour change.

“In terms of training, we are thinking about the informal chemical industry because what we had observed in the homes is that the majority of chemicals that were used across socio-economic strata were all insecticides that were purchased from informal retailers in Jamaica,” she informed.

“These chemicals were packaged in food lookalike containers, so it was hard to convince parents that this was an incorrect and unacceptable practice based on how they were purchased,” she added.

The study, titled ‘Storage Patterns of Household Chemicals: A Determinant to Childhood Poisoning’, focused on the use of chemicals within the home and how behaviour, knowledge, and storage pattern will determine how children 0-5 years are poisoned in Jamaica.

The study was conducted between March and September 2018.

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