poison control center

Poison Control Centre is a specialized unit with wide range of activities related to prevention and management of toxic exposures. It provides toxicological information and consultation to clinicians on poisoning management, conducts toxicovigilance & prevention activities, holds education & training programmes for health professionals, supports clinical analytical services, and conducts research studies on environmental health risk assessment. A Central Registry System to collect countrywide epidemiological data on acute poisoning cases has been established. It is the key participant in the national preparedness planning and response to chemical and biological disasters. 

Role and Function

Poison Information Services

The centre is providing toxicological information (product ingredients, toxic doses, health risks) and advice on diagnosis, management and prognosis of poisoning cases to the health professionals. The information is given on telephone, by fax or email and even by personal discussions. The centre is also contacted by authorities, PDO and other agencies for information on toxic risks, guide line values of chemicals in the environment and food and on the health effects of toxic exposures on public, The centre is functional during the working hours ,however, it plans to extend the services to 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, soon.

- Presently the service is being provided during working hours only
- Consultations on diagnosis and  management of poisoning cases to clinicians
- Toxicological Information on product ingredients, toxic doses and health risks to clinicians, authorities and other agencies

Types of calls to Poison Control Centre

• Consultations on management of poisoning  142
•  Information  requests from authorities… 21

Patient Management Support

The centre has prepared "National Guidelines on Poisoning Management" in collaboration with the clinical experts.  The guidelines have been distributed to all health institutions in the country for the use by health professional as SOP for management and referral of poisoning cases.  A bedside poster for emergency management of ingested poisons has also been distributed for quick referral by A&E staff .

Analytical Toxicology Service

A clinical toxicology laboratory, first of its kind in the country, has been established in the centre to help in the diagnosis and monitoring of toxic exposures, The blood lead estimations are done in children with suspected lead poisoning and in occupationally exposed workers. Urinary and blood mercury levels are estimated in antenatal cases and in occupational exposures The analytical toxicological services will soon include analysis of gastric lavage fluid and of scene residues to support diagnosis in cases of unknown poisonings.

Collection of Epidemiological data

The Central Registry System for collection of national data on   all toxic exposure / poisoning cases seen in A&E departments of hospitals and health centers, is functional since 2002. The annual epidemiological data on poisoning cases is being analyzed and reported regularly. The data is collected on approved form (MR-450) devised on the basis of globally harmonized software system developed by International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS/WHO). A sample form is enclosed here, which should be filled by the A&E staff for each poisoning case. The forms are collected by the focal points nominated in each Region, who sends the forms along with the monthly report ( sample attached),  to the poison center for the  registry.

Prevention and Awareness activities

Poison Control Centre has prepared posters, brochures, slides and booklets on prevention of poisoning.  The material is in English as well as in Arabic and is being used successfully by the centre staff to train community health staff and for awareness programmes for school children and antenatal cases. Prevention campaigns for school children also included an  exhibition of paintings by the children on the subject of "Healthy Environment for Children" on World Health Day in 2003.  Lectures on prevention of poisoning and on the functions of Poison Control Centre have been held at regional level. Awareness campaign on prevention of poisonings / exposure  due to household chemicals, contaminated food and indoor environment, for the  public have been carried out  through print media and radio and television .


A number of WHO- sponsored training courses, workshops and symposia on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of poisoning for clinicians and laboratory staff from all regions, have been organized by the centre since its inception. The staff of Poison Control Centre actively participates in meetings, workshops / training courses on chemical safety and poisoning management organized by other relevant ministries and hospitals.

A WHO national training course on lead poisoning, with special reference to children and women's health was held where twenty five professionals from different ministries participated to review the current situation of lead contamination of environment, food and cosmetics, and to review the existing monitoring methods and equipments for estimation of lead.

A national symposium on lead poisoning in children was organized inviting pediatricians and health experts from all regions to discuss the sources of lead in child's environment, prevention of exposure, blood-lead monitoring facility and future course of action in this area. 

Poison Control Centre staff is participant of International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS/HO) and has received training on the use of INTOX data management system developed by IPCS/WHO.

Coordination with other Ministries /Organization

A "Consultative Technical Committee for Poison Monitoring and Control" has been created vide Karar No. 102/03 dated 06/09/2003. This committee constitutes of nominated experts from different organizations (Ministries, Directorates and hospitals) and meets to review the current situation and means to improve coordination and workings of the centre.

Environmental Studies and Research

Two WHO research projects entitled "Environmental health monitoring to identify sources of lead exposure and impact on health status of population" and "Environmental monitoring and assessment of potential health risks in populations near waste dumping sites" have been carried out by the staff of poison control center.

The results of the lead study indicated that 6.58% of children in study population of 334 (7-11 years) had blood lead values above the acceptable levels (≤10µg/dl) and 25% of children had blood lead levels (BLL) ≥ 5µg/dl indicating thereby that children are being exposed to lead from the environment. Further studies are necessary to establish and explore the sources of exposure in home environment, risk factors and health effects of lead exposure especially in children of less than 6 years of age.

Amongst the occupationally exposed workers studied, the employees of lead battery plant and radiator repair units, were found to have very high BLL. The study suggested need for stricter implementation of occupational safety regulations and prevention/awareness programmes.

Another WHO study on "Environmental monitoring and assessment of potential health risks near waste dumping sites" was conducted, to evaluate the adverse health effects related to environmental factors amongst populations around waste dumping sites of Al-Ansab and Al-Amarat and the surrounding villages.

The study was done in 26 villages comprising of 398 study households in two wilayats of Muscat.  The total study population was 4240.  The results indicated that the respiratory problems (dry cough, difficulty in breathing, asthma, nasal discharge), dermatitis and conjunctivitis were common in the populations around the waste dumping sites.    The environmental factors responsible could be high air levels of SO2 and high levels of organochlorines in the soil detected in these areas.  However, further well-controlled studies, taking into account the confounding factors, are necessary to substantiate these preliminary findings.