Poisoning now the leading killer in Lanka

Poisoning from pesticides, drug medicaments, biological substances and snake bites, are now the eight causes of death in Sri Lanka. In 2005 18,174 people died of poisoning, in 2006 19,381 died of poisoning and in 2007 23,675 people have died of poisoning.

The increase in the mortality rate due to poisoning can be attributed to self-administration of medicaments, exposure to toxic chemicals in the household, consumption of rancid food with germs and seeking native medical treatment for snake bite, Consultant Physician Dr. Kolitha Sellahewa told a media conference on National Poison Prevention Week held at the Health Education Bureau yesterday.

He said that organo-phospate and carbomate poisoning had annually shown 12,000 cases and agro chemicals used as pesticides had been responsible for poisoning. Medicament overdose had also become an apparent cause for poisoning and medicine should never be self-administered.

Dr. Sellahewa added that three kinds of deadly snakes such as cobra, krait and Russell’s viper were responsible for causing 97 per cent of the snake bite deaths in Sri Lanka although around 97 snake species could be found in the country. About 61,000 snake bites were reported annually and 2.7 million people had been dying of snake bites in the world per year.

The National Poison and Drug Information Centre Director Dr. Ms. T. Rajshankar said that the NPDIC had formulated a policy to prevent premature deaths from poisoning. Sri Lanka was in dire need of analytical toxicology laboratory because the country did not have such laboratory to scientifically treat poison victims. The analytical toxicology laboratory was absolutely necessary to diagnose and treat poisoning before the victims developed adverse reactions to different types of poisoning.

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