CPSP expands India team with three new appointments

The Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention (CPSP) has recently appointed three new Project & Policy Officers, significantly expanding its presence in India.

Mounika Bhukya, Project & Policy Officer at the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention

Mounika Bhukya is a public policy professional, who has previously worked with the federal and central government of India. Her role will involve engagement and relationship building with the states of Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Having a background in public policy, I hope to bridge gaps in policy-making by offering an interdisciplinary approach. India has the highest pesticide poisoning cases in the world and needs tailor made solutions to eliminate extremely toxic pesticides that are fatal. I am excited to contribute to designing a plan for India in order to reduce the number of pesticide suicides and work towards assisting the Government to ban certain highly hazardous pesticides in three states currently.”

Bhawesh Jha, Project & Policy Officer at the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention

Bhawesh Jha is a public health professional with a background in mental health policy and implementation in India. He will work with state public health departments to support action on immediate goals identified under the National Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019.

I am excited about engaging with different states to help reinforce leadership and initiate action. India is set to become world’s third largest economy, yet our young women are disproportionately dying by suicide and India accounts for 37% of global suicide among women. It is incredible to think that that such a simple policy intervention, banning highly hazardous pesticides to remove access to lethal means of suicide, could save so many lives.”

Dhannya V Sasi, Project & Policy Officer at the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention

Dhannya V Sasi is a public health specialist, who has previously worked on global healthcare projects in both the public and private sector. Her role at CPSP will focus on the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, supporting the state governments to identify, raise awareness and address the issues of pesticide poisoning.

I hope to help drive policy changes to achieve ‘means reduction’ and help save lives through the work I do. I am excited to make a difference in people’s lives by working with government bodies to assess the scope and severity of risks to human health caused by exposure to agricultural pesticides.

The new appointments signify the importance of India to CPSP’s work.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there are 25,000 recorded deaths in India every year due to intentional ingestion of pesticides. However, research shows that official data is under-reported by 30 -100%, meaning that the actual number could be twice as high.

Indian regulators regularly review pesticides that are registered and over the years several have been banned. In 2015, an expert committee recommended bans and phase outs of 17 pesticides, which have been enacted. In addition, endosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, has also been banned. The committee also recommended review of an additional 27 pesticides of which only three have been banned. Several extremely deadly pesticides remain in use.

The Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention will continue to work with policy makers at both state and national level, supporting their efforts to reduce deaths from pesticide suicide.

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