Tanzania: Researchers Caution On Indiscriminate Pesticide Uses

RESEARCHERS from the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) have warned that uses of pesticides in agriculture, livestock and people without taking necessary precautions result in huge economic and health risks, including cancer.

MUHAS Senior Lecturer and Researcher Dr Vera Ngowi observed here on Monday while presenting findings of a study on the effects of pesticides in unintended creatures to the various stakeholders, including policy makers.

The study also identified other effects like cases of miscarriages occurring to pregnant women, obesity on both children and adults and blood pressure.

Besides, the researcher warned that children and small farmers are also in greater danger as they are in most cases the ones who are responsible with the task of spraying insecticides in the farms without protective gears.

"The reasons pesticides are quite harmful to children, women and the elderly is due to the mechanisms and changes taking place in their bodies. "Unlike the previous years, some families have failed to get children due to the effects of such poisons," said Dr Ngowi.

Among other effects highlighted in the presentation include environmental pollution in water bodies, homes and hotels.

Dr Ngowi disclosed that pesticides are among the largest contributors of non-communicable diseases when sprayed on plantations causing parasites to penetrate in vegetables and other foods.

The researcher cited a hotel setting whereby only pesticides are sprayed in the rooms for prevention of mosquitoes, saying the person who will be sleeping in there will inhale the poisonous air.

MUHAS Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Rose Mpembeni noted that it took them five years to complete the study in collaboration with the University of Bergensis of Norway, the University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia under the sponsorship of Norway.

She said the study has revealed a number of things enabling preparations of various publications as well as bringing together environment and health experts to deliberate on the proper handling of pesticides.

Bahi Member of Parliament Omar Badwel recommended collaboration between MUHAS and various sectorial ministries to ensure the study objectives are met.

Senior Programme Officer of a non profit organisation known as AGENDA Dorah Swai called on responsible authorities to enforce the laws, rules and regulations on proper handling of pesticides for the protection of health of humans and environment.

"Use of pesticides is not inevitable in the growth of the economy but what is needed is for the authorities to be keen on the task which has been accorded to them legally," she noted.

Ms Jubileta Bernard, speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Zainabu Chaula, advised MUHAS to continue collaborating with other institutions in the management of pesticides in the country.

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