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Guidelines for poison control.
  1. ELENA RONDA PÉREZ
  1. Public Health Department, University of Alicante, Spain

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    Guidelines for poison control. World Health Organisation. (Pp xii + 112; Sw fr 35; US $31.50; in developing countries: Sw fr 24.50). Geneva: WHO, 1997. ISBN 92 4 154487 2

    The massive growth in the availability and use of chemical products has had different consequences in health. This book, published by the World Health Organisation in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Labour Organisation, provides guidelines for the establishment or improvement of programmes for poison control. Nine chapters in 112 pages, presented in two parts, deals with the experiences of poison centres in different parts of the world.

    The first part provides an overview of the policy issues surrounding the prevention and management of poisoning. Arguing that a poison information centre should be available in every country, it describes the benefits of such centres, outlines their principal functions and suggests various options for their logical and cost effective operation.

     Part two provides technical guidance on how to organise a system for poison control. This part covers a wide range of topics such as the functions and requirements of information services, clinical services, and analytical toxicological and other laboratory services, and discusses the importance of toxicovigilance as a strategy for prevention. It explains how to deal with major emergencies involving toxic chemicals, and outlines solutions to the problem of obtaining essential antidotes. Also included is advice on the design and content of forms for collecting, storing, and reporting data, followed by a detailed list of the main documentary and library requirements: books, journals, publications of international organisations, computerised databases and educational material, indispensable for the work of a poison information centre.

    Additional practical information is provided in a series of six annexes, which describe a computer software system for the management of poisons data (IPCS INTOX Package), examples of chemical records, and classify a large number of antidotes and related agents according to their proved effectiveness and urgency of availability.

    I found the book easy to read, clearly written and presented, and it covers a wide range of topics and is useful for all those who are interested in the strategies for the prevention of poisoning.

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