Stakeholders in environmental protection and health related matters have called for an end in the use of pesticides which said to be highly hazardous in the Tanzanian market.
Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) are pesticides that are acknowledged to present particularly high levels of acute or chronic hazards to health or environment.
It has been accepted internationally with credible classification systems such as World Health Organization (WHO) or Global Harmonized System (GHS) or their listing in relevant binding international agreements such as the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).
According to Agenda for Environment and Responsible Development (AGENDA), there are pesticides that are considered highly hazardous which are put on sell in the Tanzanian market in which sellers, users and the general public do not know how to identify them due to lack of information.
AGENDA’s principal programme officer, Silvani Mng’anya said that children are vulnerable to HHPs, where some of the pesticides exposure paths to children from mother during pregnancy, at home during play, toxic residues on food.
“This was noted during a survey carried out by AGENDA in 2018, which indicated that HHPs are still being registered in the country by the national pesticides registration body, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, a factor which obvious shows that there is no clear plan to phase out HHPs;
“In general, HHPs may have acute or chronic toxic effects, and pose particular risk to children. Their widespread use has caused health problems and fatalities in many parts of the world, often as a result of occupational exposure and accidental or intentional poisonings,” said Mng’anya.
Mng’anya added that UN special report on human rights and toxic substances and right to food agree in the need to phase out HHPs, promote agro ecology and consider the un-voluntary exposure to hazardous pesticides as a human right violation.
“Tanzania has been a participant in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) which highlights the need for action on highly hazardous pesticides in order to protect the health of pesticide users and rural communities exposed to pesticides in their living and working environments,” he added.
For her part, AGENDA’s senior programme officer Dorah Swai noted that the available data are too limited to estimate the global health impacts of pesticides, however the global impact of self-poisoning (suicides) from preventable pesticide ingestion has however been estimated to amount to 186,000 deaths and 4,420,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in 2002.
“Children are especially vulnerable to toxins due to their physiology, behaviour and prenatal exposure, and the adverse effects can be manifested during all stages of their development;
“Chronic exposure has been linked to childhood cancers like leukaemia, brain tumours; poor motor skills, delayed reflexes, poor memory and other neuro developmental issues; asthma, obesity and an increase in non-communicable diseases; stillbirths, miscarriages, low birth weight and maternal death; and physical abnormalities,” noted senior programme officer of AGENDA.