Tackling Agro-poison suicides

first_imgDear Editor,Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence has been quoted in the local media as stating that “investigations ought to be conducted in suicide deaths caused by the intake of pesticides or other toxic chemicals, to ascertain whether safety and best practices were breached.”May we remind the Minister that in early 2015, The Caribbean Voice (TCV) and a number of other stakeholders had met with the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB) and an agreement arrived at that the PTCCB would unveil an adaptation of the Shri Lankan Model later that year. Nothing has since been heard about that unveiling.The Shri Lankan model encompasses:1. Introducing a minimum agro-chemicals list restricting the use of pesticides to a smaller number of pesticides least dangerous to humans.2. Placing import restrictions to ensure that more dangerous chemicals do not enter the country.3. Restricting the availability of agro-chemicals by ensuring they are stored safely in locked boxes in rural households, along with all equipment with which these pesticides are used.4. Ensuring that empty containers are safely and effectively disposed of.5. Restricting sale of agro-chemicals only to licensed premises and to licensed farmers.6. Implementing administrative controls to ensure that sales outlets safely store all agro-chemicals.7. Implementing an ongoing safe use policy to educate people about safe handling, use, storage and disposal. Concurrently, for small-scale farming, non-chemical methods, including organic farming, should be encouraged.8. Improving medical management of pesticide poisoning: an important facet of control because better management will reduce the number of deaths. Requirements are the better availability of antidotes (both in central referral hospitals and ideally in peripheral health units) and ventilation facilities, better training, and better evidence for interventions.9. Constantly monitoring all measures to ensure ongoing conformity, including random home visits to check for locked box storage and field visits to ensure that only licensed premises and licensed farmers have access to chemicals and that safe handling, use, storage and disposal are in effect.In this context the policy of sharing out cabinets to farmers makes sense. However, given that there are tens of thousands of farmers in Guyana, the few hundreds cabinets doled out so far is simply a band-aid approach. Thus time for government to reach out to the World Health Organization and other potential international and local partners to come up with an effective, long term plan to tackle agro-poisons suicide.This plan must, of necessity, include a widely publicized list of all banned agro chemicals. Additionally potent agro-poisons such as gramozone, the choice of poison in Guyana, must be added to that list. Gramozone contains the lethal ingredient paraquat a substance banned in many nations across the globe. There is no known antidote and it has one of the highest death rates for poisons once ingested. While there has been no study on its usage in Guyana, a 1997 study by Dr Daisley and Dr Simmons on forensic analysis of acute poisonings in south Trinidad showed that of 105 deaths analysed, almost 95 per cent were cases of suicide, and almost 80 per cent of deaths were due to paraquat. An analysis of international literature, especially a study in South Korea, shows that the introduction of national policies regulating and banning paraquat led to a significant decrease in pesticide-associated mortality. Yet access to this poison in Guyana is as easy as access to candy. And, considering that those who attempt suicide generally do not want to die, ingestion of gramozone effectively takes away from them that option to survive.As well, at the Second Caribbean Regional Symposium on Suicide held in December 2015 in the Cayman Islands, a representative from the government spoke with UWI’s toxicologist and founder/head of UWI’s poison control center, Dr. Verrol Simmons, and indicated to him that the Guyana government would employ his services in addressing agro-poisons suicides. At the third symposium in Trinidad & Tobago, Dr. Simmons disclosed to TCV that he never heard back from that individual or the government.Dr. Simmons also indicated that once a person ingests poison, critical first steps can be taken right there and then to start the lifesaving process. There is no doubt that such information is desperately needed in Guyana for training and for nationwide dissemination.As well, Dr. Simmons can provide technical and other assistance with respect to the poison control centers, which were supposed to have been established in mid-2016, according to a January 2016 disclosure in the media by Dr Shamdeo Persaud. To date no such center has ever been set up.The combination of an adaptation of the Shri Lankan Model and training by Dr. Simmons, even without the poison control centers, can ensure that there are no gaps and that in the mid to long-term agro-poisons suicides would be significant reduced if not eliminated.SincerelyThe Caribbean Voicelast_img read more

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Granger resisted Ramjattan until the ninth hour

first_imgDear Editor,It must also be noted that this is a party that touts “social cohesion” and that love and unity theme – there is a Ministry designated for that purpose – however, while there is this façade, one wonders where they can find that “cohesion,” or the blending of the races. This is their curse, this is their bane, a party that says one thing but does quite the opposite.While on this topic, I must make mention of that infamous statement made by the leader of the main coalition partner, the PNC’s Volda Lawrence, she was publicly quoted as saying she only “caters for PNC people and will find jobs for PNC people alone”. This was and still is a loaded statement, because she was publicly announcing her disdain for Indians while embracing “people or persons like herself”. This statement reeks of racism and speaks to the direct contempt for the race!But my sternest rebuke goes to the heart of the matter and that is Granger’s defiance of Khemraj Ramjattan as prime ministerial candidate. Granger withstood Ramjattan until the ninth hour when the folly of his ways hit home. Why did he stand against Ramjattan’s nomination is anyone’s guess. Is it because he is an Indian and not a single Indian in that coalition can be trusted by him? And so it has been ever since, Indians are treated with disdain or if ever to be “yes men”, never to question the brainless, spineless nonsense of their Black superiors. This is something those Indians within and without the party should take keen note of.So, when Harmon opened his uncultured and uneducated mouth to make that derogatory remark of Mr Phillips, he should shut up and take an introspection as to who that statement was referring to.Respectfully,Neil Adamslast_img read more

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“Tap into the Amazon Fund” to aid biodiversity research – UNDP rep

first_imgGuyana was charged with the responsibility to press Brazil for the Amazon Fund to be expended for Guiana Shield biodiversity scientific research on Monday when President David Granger declared the Fourth International Congress on Biodiversity of Guiana Shield open.United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Khadija Musa stated that the Fund was overloaded with resources that could be utilised for research. “There is no doubt that the Guiana Shield is worth protecting,” she said, adding that it was critical for the respective governments to tap into the resources that the Fund possesses.The main purpose of the Amazon Fund is to provide support for projects to stop, observe and combat deforestation, as well as for the conservation and sustainable use of forests in the Amazon.She proposed that since it was laden with a vast number of resources, there was no reason why the Shield should not receive funding.The IV International Congress on Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield is a forum organised by several local partners that sees the participations of scientists, policy makers, Private Sector entities and other stakeholders from across the Region and beyond.This five-day congress will be in session from August 8 to 12 and is expected to identify, discuss and analyse problems and issues confronting the sustainable use of resources in the Shield; suggest modalities for information sharing and technology transfer; propose solutions to problems and navigate the way forward to a sustainable future for the use of the biological resources of the Region.The UNDP representative added that the countries should be proud of their research in Region since it was crucial to the development and sustenance of the ecosystem.At the opening ceremony, President Granger suggested that since the world was under threat from human activities that decimate the environment and cause global warming, the Shield’s existence was important. He stated that it was the organisation’s duty to protect and preserve the ecosystem.Currently, the Guiana Shield comprises six nations which have dedicated their forests to conservation.Granger proposed that it was crucial for the Shield to receive funding to carry out its mandate. He also suggested the establishment of a permanent institution aimed at protecting, conserving and sustaining the Guiana Shield biodiversity.He said such an institution should be a functioning scientific research institute and be a secretariat to coordinate efforts and combine the works of the Shield. He also touted that there should be a comprehensive biodiversity policy developed to assist with information sharing.Real workMeanwhile, Professor Marten Schalkwijk, who is the Chairman of the International Society for Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield (IBG), stated that the congress brings the countries together to share information and discuss ways to do more to better the ecosystem.He indicated that there were 27 different subject areas with 127 papers on species studies and species conservation to be discussed. High on the agenda is the issue of mining and mercury.Dr Schalkwijk said they had an important role to play to make a proper assessment of the ecosystem and advise policy-makers on what could be done.“An international congress is nice, but the real work is done in each of our countries. If we do not research in our own countries, there will be nothing to report in the paper proposals,” he noted, further stating that if they did not research, they would not be able to attract members to the local chapter and if they did not have a strong local chapter, “we will not be able to attract funding for research, so we have to step up the process in our own countries”.The University of Guyana (UG) has joined in preserving the ecosystem, and according to Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, the University’s academic board will met today when he will propose the upgrading of the School of Earth and Environmental Science.He also stated that UG would be rolling out its first doctorate programme on biodiversity the 2016/2017 academic year. This congress is testimony of a commitment to do more for the ecosystem, Griffith noted.The congress is in partnership with the Natural Resources Ministry, the University of Guyana, UNDP Guyana, WWF Guianas, CI Guyana and the Iwokrama International Centre.last_img read more

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Voices unite for decriminalisation of attempted suicide

first_imgWorld Suicide Prevention DayOn the heels of a failed motion to decriminalise attempted suicide, anti-suicide advocates on National Suicide Prevention Day intensified calls for amendments to the archaic legislation which institutes penalties for attempting to take one’s life.People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament Dr Vindhya Persaud, to resounding applause appealed to everyone to support the call for attempted suicide to be decriminalised.“It is still in our legislation where people can go to jail for attempting suicide. I am going to table (the motion) again and again until we get it out of our legislation because I think if people feel that they are at a point where they have to take their life, we shouldn’t punish them further. We should help them. We should help them find a reason to live,” she expressed during the Public Health Ministry’s launch of National Suicide Prevention Day at the Giftland Mall on Saturday.Senior Psychiatrist, Dr Bhiro Harry; MP, Dr Vindhya Persaud; Acting Director of Mental Health Unit, Dr Meena Rajkumar; PAHO Country Representative, Dr William Adu-Krow and Psychologist Caitlin VieiraPersaud had tabled the motion in the National Assembly calling for the decriminalisation of attempted suicide; however it was not supported by the Government on the grounds that her presentation was too politicised.Chapter 801: Section 96 of the Criminal Law Offences Act states that anyone who attempts to commit suicide would be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years.Nonetheless, the parliamentarian and rights-advocate said she will not be deterred but will exhaust all efforts until attempted suicide is no longer recognised as a crime.Furthermore, she said it is time to move from being a judgmental society to one eager to create support networks to show people who are hurting, that we care: “We need to move towards being a society of care,” she emphasised.Persaud also noted that everyone has a role to play in ensuring people understand that life is a precious gift worth living: “Life has its fair share of challenges. Everyone has bad days, everyone has good days…we need to let people know that just as you get good days, you get bad days. Don’t succumb to those bad days. Don’t let those bad moments overwhelm you; and more importantly, understand that when you have to walk a dark path, a difficult road, you don’t have to do it alone,” she advised.Draft legislationSenior Psychiatrist Dr Bhiro Harry disclosed that the mental health ordinance was revised and is currently being reviewed by draftsmen and that the draft legislation does not include penalties for attempting suicide.“We are awaiting the draftsmen to do their bit so they can take it to Parliament for a ‘yes’ and then the President can ascent to it,” he stated, noting that the new legislation is more people-friendly, bestowing more rights on patience.Additionally, Dr Harry expressed gratitude to the media for toning down its sensationalism in reporting on suicides.He explained that the media have a critical role to play in helping to curb the high rate of suicides in the country by making it appear less desirous to end one’s life, noting that the constant descriptive reporting of suicide gives rise to the copycat effect.Connect, Communicate, CareNational Suicide Prevention Day 2016 is being observed under the theme: “Connect, Communicate, Care.” Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Country Representative Dr William Adu-Krow explained that the theme is very relevant as he urged everyone to adhere to it in order to save a life.He said it is important to build networks and relationships with people, to openly communicate with them and to genuinely show that you care. In fact Dr Adu-Krow pointed out that a study shows that if you can keep someone on the verge of committing suicide engaged for approximately ten minutes, you are likely to prevent them from taking their life.He noted that it is mindboggling that a country which contributes about 0.01 per cent to the world’s population also contributes 0.03 per cent to suicides globally.In this regard, Dr Adu-Krow urged everyone to do their part in helping to save a life. Amazingly, notably absent at the event were Public Health Ministers Dr George Norton and Dr Karen Cummings. (Devina Samaroo)last_img read more

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Maintaining Minster Tah Undermines the Law

first_imgCllr. Tiawon Gongloe on Tuesday, January 28, expressed concerns that the decision made by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to maintain Cllr. Christiana P. Tah as Justice Minister and Attorney General could undermine the rule of law in the country.“Since the High Court’s suspension of Minister Tah, the President should have acted immediately by declaring that coinciding with the judgment the Minister is hereby suspended,” Cllr. Gongloe suggested.“If that had been done maybe her suspension would have been for a shorter period,” Cllr. Gongloe added.Minster Tah, who is Dean of the Supreme Court, was suspended on January 10 by that High Court from practicing law in the country for six months.She was suspended after the High Court held her in contempt for her role played in releasing FrontPage Africa Managing Editor Rodney Sieh, on “compassionate leave” from detention at the Monrovia Central Prison.  According to the leading human rights activist, the Court’s action was to defend the integrity of the rule of law.“If somebody in authority acts in clear violation of the rule of law, then the High Court is under obligation to take strong action.”“If the Supreme Court can take such an action against the Minister of Justice, then it is protecting the independence of the Court,” Cllr. Gongloe maintained.“In my mind the honorable thing for Minister Tah to do is resign; because the law is the source of the Ministry and if you are Attorney General, you are the nation’s head lawyer,” the rights activist explained.“And if that is taken away from you what can you do as a Minster of Justice?” he wondered.“She is not truly Minister of Justice in my opinion,” said Cllr. Gongloe, “because the functions of that Ministry is to prosecute and defend all actions against the government and to give it general counsel.”“You are to review and authenticate all contracts and give opinions about what the law is to the executive; and to monitor the action of the executive to make sure it is in compliance with the law.”He continued “The only Minister under the law who disagrees with the President on the basis of the law and keeps his/her job is the Minister of Justice.  No other minister can do that and maintain their position.”Commenting further on President Sirleaf’s reluctance to suspend Minister Tah, Cllr. Gongloe maintained that “People— especially those holding high office in government— would have said since the President acted, we will be careful with the High Court.”But, according to the leading human rights activist, President Sirleaf has chosen to remain silent on the issue.“If the President does not obey the High Court’s ruling who you think in the other two branches of government will do that?” Cllr. Gongloe wondered, “It means gradually the court will become irrelevant.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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WHATS HOT

first_imgHot new single video released: The video titled “My Baby” was released yesterday on every TV station within Monrovia. The song was done by one of LIB’s finest, Famous Boo, directed by Joseph C. Weah and photographed by Khalil Fofana. This video hasn’t been around for a week and is already making headlines.Hottest Liberian Movie: “The Princess Must Die” is a new Liberian movie written and Produced by Madina N. Johnson, directed by Julius Wilson. The Princess Must Die is a story about two kingdoms that have always been at war with each other over a piece of land that lies between them. Watch this thrilling movie that is bound to keep you on the edge of your seat!“I-20” Releases New Video in USA: One of our very own Liberian artist based in America, “I 20”, has just released a new video called “Blood and Tears”. I 20 is doing a pretty good job out there in America and is known to be one of the best out there. “Blood and Tears” can be found on YouTube.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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2 For Kelvin M. Bayoh Finals Sunday

first_imgGhanaian Community and Clara Town old timers will clash in the finals of the Kelvin M. Bayoh friendship tournament at the Conference Center sports pitch.Ghanaian Community (Brothers), reached the finals by defeating Island Warriors 1-0 and defeating Nigerian Community 3-0 in the second round and drew 0-0 with Gblowein in the third round.Clara Town on the other hand reached the finals, defeating Amenu 1-0, Cameroon Community 2-0 and drawing 0-0 with Gblowein.Ghana Community reached a total four goals, and Clara Town has 3 goals to their credit. The two teams are set to decide who lifts the trophy on Sunday, and fans are urged to attend.There were three groups of 4 teams when the tournament started on May 14, 2014. In the first round, Nigerian Community eliminated NPA 1-0 but crashed against Ghana Community in the second round.Boffa defeated Doe Community 3-2 but lost forfeit points against Gblowein in the second round. Other teams’ included Amenu, Bushrod Bull and Dosa old timers.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Anyone Who Eats Ebola Money Will Go to Jail

first_imgActing Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara M. Konneh has warned all of those handling Ebola monies that if any is caught illegally eating Ebola money that person will go to jail.Acting Minister Konneh said it was too early to accuse people of “eating Ebola Trust Fund money”. He, however, emphasized: “But let me say this to those of you receiving money to fight Ebola, when you eat Ebola money, you will go to jail.”He disclosed that the Liberian Government would cut “wasteful spending” and redirect such funding to Ebola treatment centers like ELWA-2 and others all across the country.He also told those handling the funds that proper accountability would be demanded off them in order to ensure that Liberians and sick patients get the “best care possible.”Min. Konneh, who deputized for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Wednesday, September 10, at ELWA-2 Ebola treatment center, had earlier been presented 12 Liberians, who once tested positive with the Ebola virus disease but were now negative and were being released back into their communities.He said he had come with two messages from President Sirleaf: “The first message is to thank our Liberian Ebola heroes [and heroines], Dr. Jerry Brown and your team. I want to assure you, the administrators of ELWA-2 that we will do everything within our power as a government to give all the support that you need here.” Min. Konneh stressed that “anything” that Dr. Brown and his team need to save the lives of Liberians within the isolation, would be provided by the government.He said the second message from the President was that their government is doing everything in its power to respond to the epidemic. Among other things, he disclosed: “We are going to open additional treatment centers around Montserrado and across the country: not in the matter of months but in the matter of weeks; we will work with our partners and we will put our government money inside. We will cut wasteful spending and put the money there when necessary.”Min. Konneh, who is the nation’s chief financial custodian, assured Dr. Brown that he (Konneh) would visit the center everyday.Speaking earlier, Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe, in whose electoral district number 6, the isolation center is located, said every time, he enters the center, he is “touched.”“Amidst the numerous criticisms, this center is supported fully by the Liberian government. We must give the credit to the government for the success of this center,” he said.According to him, Finance Minister Konneh had informed him that he (Konneh) has been instructed by President Sirleaf that the center be fully supported.He extended thanks to the government for providing vehicles for the center’s workers and Dr. Brown.He, however, said that supporting the centers was good but preventing the spread of the disease was better and more focus should also be placed on it.He appealed to everyone that handling of the anti-Ebola campaign should be void of political gimmicks.Also speaking earlier, Dr. Brown said the 12 having stayed within the isolation between 10 to 20 days had now tested negative. He said among the 12 was a family whose father and mother succumbed to the virus and the kids were now left with their sister to raise. All of them had been positive.Also among the 12 survivors was a women who had lost all her four children to the virus; the eldest was a 27-year-old nurse. She is now alone as she said her husband long abandoned the children and her.She told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that she can no longer go back to her Logan Town home as there would be no one to talk with because everyone has died. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Logging Company Dumps Defendants in PUP US$6M Case

first_imgDrama unfolded yesterday in the ongoing trial of four dismissed managers of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and a senior surveyor of the Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy (MLME), when a significant evidence surfaced suggesting that one of the defendants, John Kantor received US$51,538.20 rather than the US$4,500 from the Universal Forest Corporation (UFC).The evidence was discovered after presiding Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh,  based on request from prosecution, ordered the management of Universal Forest Corporation to produce the original copies of cash receipts issued to the company by Mr. John Kantor dated October 20, 2011 on the stationary of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).Surprisingly, when the company’s management appeared at Criminal Court ‘C’ they produced several cash receipts totaling US$51,538.20, contrary to what prosecution had in its indictment.  It was based on the  new evidence that state lawyers asked Judge Gbeneweleh, who is serving as both a judge and a jury, to allow it to form part of its documentary and oral evidences to convict the defendants.  In its indictment, prosecution alleged that “between the periods of 2010 to December 2011, John Kantor, former technical manager for research of the FDA and while serving the FDA in the said capacity did receive in excess of US$4,500 as compensation or reward from the management of Universal Forest Corporation (UFC) representing final payment for boundary line demarcation of the Getro Private Use Permit (PUP) in Sinoe County.”  Despite serious contention raised by the defense team, arguing that the new evidence should be dismissed on the grounds that the trial has lasted for three weeks and introducing any other evidence would not augur well for the trial.  Judge Gbeneweleh went ahead to ignore the defense team’s argument and granted the state’s request, clarifying that the new evidence was not an additional charge against the defendants.  The decision to cite UFC came immediately following the testimony by a state witness, James Dorbor Jallah, who chaired the Presidential Special Independent Investigation Body (SIIB).His testimony linked the logging company for having paid a bribe for the performance of services they were required to do under the PUP.  Kantor, along with other senior management officials  of the FDA, including the  dismissed Managing Director Moses Wogbeh, are on trial for their individual roles in facilitating the wrongful and illegal issuance of sixty-one PUPs that authorized commercial logging operations on the 2.5 million hectares of farm land, in which Universal is implicated for bribery.  The crimes for which the four former senior managers of the FDA and a senior surveyor of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy are being tried include economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, forgery or counterfeiting, obtaining and issuing deceptive writings and obstruction of government functions by public servants.  The case continues.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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