Report lists lacunae in treatment of Yavatmal pesticide poisoning cases

New Delhi, October 28

Pesticide poisoning cases in Yavatmal, Maharashtra, are falling through the cracks, and due processes are not being followed, says a new report by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN).

According to the report, pesticide poisoning cases – which have taken the lives of at least 36 farmers in Yavatmal and left several more in the intensive care unit – are supposed to be treated as medico-legal cases, requiring investigation by police. This was not being done in Yavatmal.

Lacunae in treatment

Further, the team investigating the recent cases of poisoning has also found lacunae in diagnosis and treatment provided to the victims.

“Our assessment shows that use of different pesticides together and pesticide cocktails are generally not factored in for diagnosis and treatment decisions,” the report has said.

The report has also pegged the average cost of indiscriminate use of pesticides at ₹4.54 crore per season for every 1,000 farmers.

The report also said that the use of atropine as a universal antidote in such poisoning cases have “possible serious implications on treatment methods and patient recovery.”

Lack of information among farmers on the proper use of pesticides, application and other issues are being identified as some of the principal causes of the tragedy in Yavatmal, which is a cotton-growing region, it said.

Unapproved pesticides

The PAN report says that pesticides that have not been approved for use in cotton farms are also being sold in Yavatmal. “Approved pesticides (insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) and not approved for cotton have been sold and used in Yavatmal. Names of 16 agro-chemicals have emerged, from our assessment and media reports. A thorough study should be able to link particular pesticides with particular problems of exposure,” the report said.

“Farmers and the victims with whom the team interacted said they often mixed chemicals,” the report noted.

PAN also mentions that Maharashtra has a policy allowing mixing of pesticides, “which to our knowledge is not supported by research or regulation.”

“There is a need to appoint a panel of medical specialists, including neurosurgeons, to examine medical treatment given to current pesticide poisoning patients and develop an appropriate treatment procedure for farmers and farm workers admitted in private and public hospitals across Yavatmal district,” the organisation recommended.

Published on October 27, 2017

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