Pesticide Handling Practices by Farming Households in Relation to Disease Burden: A Case of Migori County, Kenya
Unsafe exposure to pesticides has become an issue of concern globally for the last two decades due to their ecological effect. Data available from Public Health office in Migori County, Kenya over a period of five years from 2011 to 2016 showed increasing disease burden in the population suspected to be as a result of unsafe use of pesticides as well as weak policy interventions. The study was necessitated by human health concern and ecological risks due to handling of pesticides. The objective was to evaluate pesticide handling practices in relation to symptoms of ill-health. Preliminary information was obtained on common ill-health symptoms associated with pesticides (such as eye, skin, stomach, respiratory irritation and mental problems) from literature review and public health officers. Questionnaires and observation schedules were administered to farmers relating to current practices on application and disposal of pesticides in 2016. A sample of 384 farming household heads within a population of 7,500 farming households was identified by stratified purposive sampling based on sub-counties and wards. Triangulation by use of Focus Group Discussions were used and content analysed. The research design was descriptive survey and data analysed by descriptive statistics. Hypothesis testing was done using χ2 at 0.05 level of confidence. From the sample, 97% of the farmers used pesticides in 2016 and those affected by eye irritation were 33%, skin irritation 29% and 24% by respiratory irritation, stomach irritation 12.5% and mental problems 7.5% (p (χ2 ≥ 530.593, df 126) = 0.000 at α 0.05). The farmers (79.5%) showed unsafe handling practices before application of pesticides. The study recommended introduction of affordable and more comfortable protective clothing for farmers and up scaling of extension services on choice, use, storage and disposal of pesticides as vital for ecological sustainability.
Disease Burden, Ecological Risk, Ill health Symptoms, Pesticides
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