Pesticide production has increased continuously in Southeast Asian countries in recent years. Studies have shown there is a gap in the implementation of pesticide management in regards to protecting the health and safety of agricultural workers due to continuous reports on occupational exposures.
Occupational exposures within the agricultural sector in Southeast (SE) Asia continue to be reported. Across SE Asian countries, a high amount of pesticide usage was reported in Thailand (172 000 tonnes in 2013, the Philippines (22 470 tonnes in 2004) and Malaysia (51 066 tonnes in 2004).
In their review article published in Reviews on Environmental Health, the authors provide a narrative on the existing law relating to pesticides in SE Asia with the focus on safety, health and the welfare of farmers, or the lack of.
Even with the existing framework on pesticide management, involuntary cases of pesticide poisoning have been reported to occur in these countries notwithstanding the fact that some have implemented strategies to ensure the protection of workers from exposures. It can be argued that this was due to the high demands for pesticides which led to its increased manufacturing and imports into the countries, creating a massive challenge in the enforcement of pesticide management.
High mortalities continue due to pesticide exposure
The governing bodies in the countries of SE Asia have placed significant effort on developing structure related procedures in pesticide management within the context of occupational safety and health (OSH) to ultimately overcome the problem. Unfortunately, most of these countries continue to have high mortalities due to pesticide exposures as reported in previous literature.
As such, there is a need to identify the gap in the implementation of the existing regulating framework or system of the pesticide management, as well as in the safety and health practices at the agricultural sector.
There are differences of pesticide-related legislations and OSH practices among the countries in SE Asian countries but no review has been performed to systematically identify it. Thus, for a better understanding, it is necessary to review these comparisons to help point out the weaknesses of pesticide management framework in terms of its practice and implementation.
Highest pesticide usage in Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia
The amount of pesticide usage in ten countries in SE Asia was widely varied and depended heavily on the intensity of agricultural practices, with smaller countries like Singapore and Brunei having the least agricultural activities. The countries which use the most pesticide are Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.
SE Asian governents now measuring usage
The authors found that almost all countries in SE Asia have assigned a local authority and government organization to manage and control pesticide usage especially in the agricultural sector. Nonetheless, the review found there is need for more emphasis on the element of worker protection within the legal structure of agriculture-intensive countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. In terms of safety practice, almost all of the countries in SE Asia have implemented at best a minimum of safety and health sub-categories.
From the review, it can be concluded that the governing bodies in the countries of SE Asia have placed significant effort to develop legal structure related to pesticide management at the country level. The implementation of pesticide management focusing on protecting workers, especially in countries where a larger proportion of its economic interest lies within the agricultural sector, really needs to be supported and given an effective oversight.
It is suggested that emphasis be given to the implementation of diagnosis, health surveillance and the reporting system as well as following or adopting standard guidelines for the protection of workers in terms of safety and health in the agricultural sector.
Read the original article here
Emilia Zainal Abidin, Norsyazwani Mohammad, Vivien How, Sarva Mangala Praveena, Zailina Hashim: Pesticide Management Approach towards Protecting the Safety and Health of farmers in the Southeast Asia: A review 21.10.2017