Monday, October 25

Kolkata poison information unit finds place on WHO global list

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The poison information centre (PIC) at RG Kar Medial College has received WHO recognition and has been enlisted in the world health body’s Global Health Observatory under the directory of world poison centres. Only nine centres from India have bagged a place in the WHO directory, with the PIC in RG Kar being the only one attached with a government-run hospital. Other names on the list include AIIMS New Delhi and CMC Vellore.
Set up in April, 2018, the centre at RG Kar had to be operational for at least three years before it could get the WHO recognition. It provides toxicological information and advice on treatment of patients who suffer from poisoning.

The unit operates a toll-free 24×7 helpline that guides patients and doctors in case of poisoning, including from snake bites. In fact, doctors attached with the PIC were roped in to help treat five teachers who took poison in front of Bikas Bhawan a few weeks ago.
The helpline used to get about 300 calls a month before the pandemic. Though the number dropped drastically during the first and second waves, it has now increased to around 120 calls a month.

“The recognition is a matter of great pride. We now have plans of expanding our work, like setting up a real-time poison detection centre and developing an app that would guide the affected to the nearest centre that has anti-venom. Bengal is endemic to snake bites and we hope such an app will help,” said Somnath Das, professor and head of department, forensic medicine and toxicology.

According to Das, the poison detection centre has a two-fold advantage — identifying the poison, helping get precise treatment, and being a handy medico-legal point.

The PIC, the only one of its kind in eastern India, also has an app that familiarises users with types of poison, including chemicals, vegetables and snakes in our surroundings, and explains what to do if affected by any of it.

Source: Times of India

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