Status of Legislation and Regulatory Control of Public Health Pesticides in Countries Endemic with or at Risk of Major Vector-Borne Diseases

By Matthews, Graham; Zaim, Morteza et al. | Environmental Health Perspectives, November 2011 | Go to article overview

Status of Legislation and Regulatory Control of Public Health Pesticides in Countries Endemic with or at Risk of Major Vector-Borne Diseases


Matthews, Graham, Zaim, Morteza, Yadav, Rajpal Singh, Soares, Agnes, Hii, Jeffrey, Ameneshewa, Birkinesh, Mnzava, Abraham, Dash, Aditya Prasad, Ejov, Mikhail, Tan, Soo Hian, van den Berg, Henk, Environmental Health Perspectives


BACKGROUND: Legislation and regulation of pesticides used in public health are essential for reducing risks to human health and the environment.

OBJECTIVE: We assessed the global situation on legislation and regulatory control of public health pesticides.

METHODS: A peer-reviewed and field-tested questionnaire was distributed to 142 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO); 113 states completed the questionnaire.

RESULTS: Legislation on public health pesticides was absent in 25% of the countries. Where present, legislation often lacked comprehensiveness, for example, on basic aspects such as labeling, storage, transport, and disposal of public health pesticides. Guidelines or essential requirements for the process of pesticide registration were lacking in many countries. The capacity to enforce regulations was considered to be weak across WHO regions. Half of all countries lacked pesticide quality control laboratories, and two-thirds reported high concern over quality of products on the market. National statistics on production and trade of pesticides and poisoning incidents were lacking in many countries. Despite the shortcomings, WHO recommendations were considered to constitute a supportive or sole basis in national registration. Also, some regions showed high participation of countries in regional schemes to harmonize pesticide registration requirements.

CONCLUSIONS: Critical deficiencies are evident in the legislative and regulatory framework for public health pesticides across regions, posing risks to human health and the environment. Recent experience in some countries with situational analysis, needs assessment, action planning, and regional collaboration has signaled a promising way forward.

Key WORDS: environment, health risks, malaria, pesticide legislation, pesticide management, pesticide regulation, public health pesticides, vector-borne diseases, vector control. Environ Health Perspect U9:1517-1522 (2011). http://dx.doi.org/l0.1289/ehp.1103637 [Online 8 July 2011]

Major vector-borne diseases such as malaria, lymphatic filariasis, dengue, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and Japanese encephalitis, as well as nuisance pests in and around human habitations, cause tremendous suffering and impede the alleviation of poverty and constrain economic development. Thus, attaining the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (United Nations 2011) is difficult. Recent reports indicate considerable progress in reducing malaria and neglected tropical diseases [World Health Organization (WHO) 2010c, 2010f). Vector control using pesticides has remained an important component in combating these diseases, and the use of pesticides in many countries has been increasing with the scaling up or interventions. A global assessment of trends in public health pesticide use is forthcoming.

If not properly regulated, the use of vector-control pesticides and other public health pesticides, which include those for use by households and pest control operators (WHO 2010d), could undermine the effectiveness of interventions or pose risks to human health and the environment. The WHO recommends only a limited number of pesticides for public health purposes (WHO 2006a), excluding those that are known to be most hazardous to human health and the environment. Under the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2005], hereafter referred to as the Code of Conduct, and two recent World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions, WHA 63.25 and 63.26 (WHO 2010e), countries and parties are urged to establish or strengthen capacity for the regulation of the sound management of pesticides, which include agricultural and public health pesticides, throughout their life cycle. Also, several legally binding international instruments, to which any country can be a party, are in place to ensure sound management of pesticides.

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