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Organophosphate poisoning is a major public health problem in South Africa. Individuals get exposed to organophosphate in both the domestic and industrial spheres.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using retrospective, secondary data of organophosphate poisoning cases over a 3-year period, reported at the Tshwane District surveillance office. Data were analysed using Microsoft Excel, and Epi Info version 7 was used for descriptive statistics.
A total of 207 cases were reported with ages ranging from 10 months to 59 years. Most of the cases were men (58.9%). Intentional poisoning accounted for 51% of cases. Unintentional poisoning accounted for 21.7% of cases, and 26.5% of cases had unknown circumstances of poisoning. A significant number (50.2%) of intentional poisonings were suicide related. Nonsuicidal cases accounted for 47.4% of cases, and deliberate unlawful poisoning accounted for 2.4% of cases. The mortality rate for the whole group was 3.4%.
Improvement in data collection on organophosphate poisoning is essential to properly measure the burden of the problem. More effective regulatory controls for pesticide use are needed in South Africa.
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