The NPIS in conjunction with PHE CRCE have been supporting global public health activities and capacity building as part of its commitment to the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).4 The NPIS contributes to several countries and region-specific programmes in Africa and South East Asia as well as activities to support UK overseas territories (UKOTs).
The NPIS can offer specialist knowledge, advice and training to countries looking to set up or strengthen their existing poisons information service. This can include developing and delivering a specific tailored programme of work over several years, for example current projects in Ethiopia and Myanmar, to workshops aimed at signposting public health practitioners and clinicians to available resources though training and exercises, e.g. UKOTs.
Staff from NPIS and PHE have undertaken missions jointly in Ethiopia and Myanmar to build relationships with stakeholders and identify how best to support the country and region and to develop its poisons information service. In Ethiopia, clinical toxicology training is being provided to St Peter’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, and in Myanmar the main stakeholder is the National Poisons Control Centre in Yangon. Training missions that have been delivered in Ethiopia and are scheduled for Myanmar include: introduction to toxicology, pesticides, household products, pharmaceuticals and the role of poisons centres in chemical incident response and surveillance. Classroom-based teaching sessions and case studies have been combined with practical training sessions in using TOXBASE and answering poisons information telephone enquiries with “mock” phone calls and technical support such as assisting with development of associated standard operating procedures. Feedback on the training delivered to date has been very positive and has shown that NPIS skills are transferable to developing countries.
The projects have led to numerous collaborations, e.g. locally with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute to develop mechanisms for chemical incident surveillance and on the international level with the WHO to update numerous chapters in the WHO Poisons Centre Guidelines. The projects have further developed important collaborations with established poisons centres in Tanzania and Thailand, and also with Zambian experts with the view of developing a poisons centre. Some additional key achievements to date have included: