Safe Storage

A community-based cluster randomised trial of safe storage to reduce pesticide self-poisoning in rural Sri Lanka

Project Grant ID: Welcome Trust-090958, University of Edinburgh-R41512
Principal Investigator: Prof Michael Eddleston, University of Edinburgh

Every year, around 300,000 people die from pesticide self-poisoning, the majority in rural Asia. Fatality after pesticide poisoning is 20-30 times higher than after medicine self-poisoning, without any indication of a greater intent to die. The WHO now recognises pesticide self-poisoning and hanging to be the most important means of suicide globally.

Several approaches have been proposed to reduce mortality from pesticide self-poisoning, including improved medical management and reduced use of the more highly toxic pesticides in agriculture. Another approach proposed is to restrict access by promoting households to store pesticides in lockable “safe-storage” containers. However, before this approach can be promoted, evidence is required on its effectiveness and safety.

A community-based cluster randomised controlled trial has been set up in 53,000 households in the Mahaweli H region of Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. A baseline survey was performed to collect demographic data and data on socioeconomic status, pesticide usage, self-harm and alcohol consumption. Participating villages were then randomised and eligible households in the intervention arm given a lockable, safe storage container for agrochemicals.

The primary outcome will be incidence of pesticide self-poisoning over a three year follow up period amongst individuals aged 14 years and over.

Secondary outcomes will include the incidence of all pesticide poisoning, self-harm by all means, and suicide.

Get more information from this project and see updates on the Safe Storage Trial Website.