Effectiveness of an educational program to promote pesticide safety among pesticide handlers of South India
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- Sam, K.G., Andrade, H.H., Pradhan, L. et al. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2008) 81: 787. doi:10.1007/s00420-007-0263-3
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Occupational poisoning with pesticides is common in developing countries because farmers are often under trained, illiterate and consider it impractical and expensive to use safety equipment, especially in tropical climates. Greater benefit of education programs on prevention can be obtained if initiated in areas having higher occurrence of poisoning. Hence, the present study evaluated occurrence of poisoning and effectiveness of educational interventions among pesticide handlers in areas having high occurrence of occupational poisoning.
Two villages of Udupi district of South India were identified by spot mapping and targeted for a public education program on safe handling of pesticides, the impact of which was assessed using a knowledge attitude and practice (KAP) questionnaire. Education was provided using a structured individualized training program to 74 pesticide handlers. Three point KAP assessments were carried out at baseline, immediately after training and after 1 month of training. Nonparametric Kruskal–Wallis tests and Friedmann tests were used to compare scores at different time points and between groups.
Occurrence of occupation related poisoning was 33% and common in three villages of the district. The average baseline KAP score of 30.88 ± 10.33 improved after education significantly (P < 0.001) at first follow-up 45.03 ± 9.16 and at second follow-up 42.9 ± 9.54. A decline of score between the first and second follow-up may be attributed to decline in knowledge retention. Demographics like gender, literacy and presence of children affected KAP score and there was no influence of geography, age or frequency of pesticide use.
Educational intervention among pesticide handlers improved the KAP score for safe pesticide handling. We recommend that continuous education and training programs for agricultural workers will promote awareness and minimize the hazards of occupational pesticide exposure.