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Risk Minimisation Advice For Public Health

Risk Minimisation Advice For Public Health Services

The Ministry of Health released advice for public health services last week on how to minimise the risks associated with accidental or deliberate chemical poisoning.

The advice was prepared by the Ministry's Public Health Directorate and sent to medical officers of health and health protection officers.

Deputy Director, Public Health, Dr Don Matheson said the advice was timely given the events of September 11 last year. The Ministry frequently sends environmental health updates to public health services. In the most recent update, the Ministry has asked the services to consider the risks of deliberate chemical poisoning as well as accidental poisoning.

Dr Matheson said the risk of chemical poisoning in New Zealand was still considered low but it was being treated as a possibility after a letter containing threats against the New Zealand Open Golf Tournament was sent to the United States Embassy.

Dr Matheson said public health services have been asked to ensure contingency plans are in place for both accidental or deliberate chemical poisoning.

Advice included: liaising with District Health Board emergency management teams on their preparedness ensuring a 24 hour response capacity is available at each public health service reminding packers and sellers of deadly and dangerous poisons about the importance of safe and secure storage working with water suppliers and the food industry to identify and minimise risks from contamination.

Dr Matheson said information on chemical poisoning, provided by the National Poisons Centre, was also included.

The Ministry of Health will continue to provide further advice and information to public health services where appropriate and as required, Dr Matheson said.


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