Monday, 2 September 2019

PSN Declares Poisons As Public Health Emergency Issue Requiring Prompt Response

Upgrades Its Medicine Information Centre To Stop Menace

With growing spate of suicide in the country, stakeholders have said that poisons can no longer be treated with kid’s glove but as a public health emergency issue requiring  prompt, co-ordinated and simple response.
Announcing this was Pharm (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) who said that  the primary tool for the response is information.
The PSN boss further noted  that  those who often come into first contact with poison victims may not be trained health care professionals. Every time lost in the confused state of managing victims jeopardises the chance for survival, he added.
Ohuabunwa who spoke in a statement signed by Mrs. Ijeoma Okey Ewurum, PSN Publicity Secretary, announced; that PSN has unveiled plans to up-scale the activities of her Medicine Information Center (MIC) to a National Drug and Poisons Information, Emerging Response and Research Centre. According to him, the centre would provide the information urgently required to respond and tackle the ugly menace of poisoning in the country, Nigeria.
Recently, the  media was awash with news of a young Nigerian, 400-level student of the Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Chukwuemeka Akachi who committed suicide by ingesting two bottles of the pesticide Sniper.
Six Nigerians reportedly attempted or died by suicide in the same week as Akachi’s death. All these suicides have one thing in common: the victims ingested Sniper.
Sniper is a pesticide for industrial use, but Nigerians are using it to kill mosquitoes and cockroaches in their homes.
Sniper is simply one example of deadly substances which has made the news recently for being the go-to poison for suicide. Another example is Codeine.
However, the Pharmaceutical Codex 1979 stated that any substance which by its chemical action causes damage to structures, or disturbance of function when ingested, inhaled or absorbed can act as a poison. Some poisons may have therapeutic benefits when used in recommended doses, but this same therapeutic agent could become a dangerous chemical and threat to life when consumed.
Poisoning is injury or death due to ingesting, inhaling, touching or injecting various drugs, chemicals, venoms or gases. Many substances, such as drugs and carbon monoxide, are poisonous only if ingested.
Children are particularly sensitive to even small amounts of certain drugs and chemicals.
In 2017 the U.S poison control centers reported telephone guidance for nearly 2.12 million human poison exposures that means 640 persons in every 100,000 persons (adults) were exposed, one poison exposure reported at the control center every 14.9 seconds.
Poisoning affects both the young and old, male and female, though children below 6 years comprise almost half of the exposed. Reasons for poisoning could be; Unintentional: therapeutic error, environmental, bite & sting from insects, Intentional: suspected suicide, misuse, abuse and others
Most common substances implicated in poison exposures include cosmetics and personal care product, cleaning substances, analgesics, topical preparation, pesticides, antihistamine, vitamins, pesticides, plants and dietary supplements. Available data in Nigeria on poisoning is not comprehensive but selective  on heavy metal poisoning.
Berating the situation, Mazi Ohuabunwa said;”With recent events in our country, poisons can no longer be treated as a child’s thing but a public health issue.
Poisoning Response should be prompt, co-ordinated and simple.
“The primary tool for response is information. Most times those who come into first contact with the victim may not be trained health care professionals. Every time lost in the confused state jeopardizes the chance for survival.”
He said; “The  government has  tried to control  the use of poisons  through enactment of new laws or adjustment of already existing laws .”
Examples,  he said are the ban on the sale and distribution of hazardous insecticides like sniper; Restriction on the sale and distribution of  codeine  Others are; Restriction of Cannabis use  because of its use as a CNS stimulant  and intoxication of young females by young adult males for rape or forced sex.
The rest are; “Enactment and implementation of laws on poisons use and poisoning are not enough to control poisoning.”
Given the scenario, he said that poisoning response in Nigeria, the upgrading of MIC to a National Drug and Poisons Information, Emerging Response and Research Centre which launch holds tomorrow is a timely intervention.
The PSN President said; “This centre will operate as a National workplace (call centre) that offers hope of survival to victims exposed to untoward effects of drugs, substances of abuse and poisons, through counseling, referral and when necessary, the mobilisation of appropriate response team.”
He also said that the operation units of the centre will include, a call centre for effective communication and mobilisation of real time response; conduct training for professionals, support research and utilisation of research findings.
On the benefits,  Ohuabunwa reasoned;  “Life expectancy is affected positively as many more lives can be saved in cases of promptly reported emergencies”
Through strong inter-professional collaboration, he said that Government will have accurate data to work with, adding; “Medicines security will improve National security. Nigeria’s healthcare services ratings by the international community will improve.”
“The PSN Emergency Response Research Center will provoke and adopt an international protocol in the emergency response to poisoning and drug abuse. It will impact on the structure and content of response. The PSN will stop at nothing in leading the way to end substance abuse and poisoning in Nigeria,” he added, while  calling all Nigerians to support the noble project.”

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