Pesticide Safety

Feb 18, 2016: In an interview with the Guyana Times on Monday January 25, Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine had indicated that most aspects of the Central Counseling Body had been finalized and all was to be implemented within 10 days. According to the newspaper, the Minister was, among other things, referring to placement of counselors in all schools. Well that should have been done by February 5th. So why the holdup?
Incidentally The Caribbean Voice is thrilled about the basket of initiatives outlined in the recent budget debate in parliament but we sincerely hope that words would quickly translate into action. Meanwhile as we wait, hopefully, for the re-launching of the Gatekeepers’ Program, we welcome the Pesticide Board’s intention to share out to farmers, 150 cabinets to add to the 150 distributed last year. However, given that there are tens of thousands of farmers in Guyana, we suggest an urgent and extensive campaign to educate farmers about pesticide safety. That campaign must clearly propagate that:
• all agro-chemicals and other poisons to be purchased by someone who’s very reliable (preferably provided with some sort of official permission to buy such chemicals) and who would immediately safely store the chemicals upon reaching home, in cabinets/strong boxes secured by farmers/householders themselves;
• all agro-chemicals and other poisons are safely stored at all times with the key being held by the most reliable family member so that no one else can have access to these poisons;
• the chemicals/poisons are only given to whoever needs to use them, on the days when they are to be used and that usage is keenly supervised;
• the chemicals to be returned to the safe as soon as possible after usage and that any empty containers are safely disposed of immediately;
• all households are sensitized to the dangers of all poisons purchased are always alert to any unauthorized efforts to access them;
• all community members are sensitized to the dangers of all poisons used by the community;
• all Gatekeepers’ training include pesticide safety to supplement and reinforce the work of the pesticide board.
Meanwhile, with at least two sports competitions already focusing on suicide awareness, we urge the Ministries of Health and Social Protection to reach out to all sports organizations and persuade them to include suicide awareness and information dissemination in their sports programs, not only with respect to suicide prevention but also related issues such as abuse, for example. We also urge all regional administrations to follow the lead of the New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitarian Foundation (NJAS) and other entities (EBB, Linden, MMZ, Herstelling) and organize walks and rallies, in collaboration with various ministries and other stakeholders to foster awareness and pass on information as well as to encourage collaboration.
The Caribbean Voice also highly commends the Ministry of Health for its upcoming stakeholders forum to address suicide prevention. And, we strongly urge that this forum set up a national coordinating committee that can help to foster collaboration, map all that is happening so as to avoid duplication, ensure follow up, maximize resource use and plug the gaps. This would facilitate that a structured approach, and regular feedback drive an ongoing national campaign and provide citizens with the wherewithal to help save lives. Of course the Ministry of Health (MOH) must build a comprehensive database of NGOs and others involved in suicide prevention and social activism. The Caribbean Voice has an extensive list that we are willing to share with MOH.
As well, in keeping with the theme that suicide prevention is everybody’s business, The Caribbean Voice urges all and sundry to please touch base with the Ministry of Health, Education and Social Protection, regional health authorities, health institutions, regional social workers and NGOs to help build a national approach to suicide prevention. Please do bear in mind that the life you save may be that of a loved one.
Meanwhile, we must point out that the closure of Wales Estate creates a potential for an increase in suicide among the affected population. Thus, we sincerely hope that a safety net is put in place to ensure that any suicide ideation is not acted upon. Ditto for farmers severely affected by the current drought. Also we echo the calls of many others for UG to take the lead in suicide (and other social issues) research, build models to actualize redress and provide training necessary to implement the models. And we appeal to Digicel and GT&T to add awareness and information dissemination messages along with the suicide hotline numbers to their regular fare sent out to their mobile customers on a daily basis.
Finally, we urge everyone to keep the suicide hotline numbers handy and to call the suicide hotline numbers at the slightest suspicion that someone may be at risk. It is better to err on the side of caution that to ignore a situation only to lament afterwards; it is better to make a mistake than to lose a life. Also always feel free to contact The Caribbean Voice at email at,,, or phone 621-6111, 223-2637 or 627-4423.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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