ave you ever been in a situation where someone has been exposed to poison and you had no idea what to do?
Handy information charts with guidelines on the immediate treatment in case of poisoning are now available in all of South Africa’s 11 official languages.
The Tygerberg Poison Information Centre’s (TPIC) at Stellenbosch University (SU) developed the charts that can be downloaded by the public free of charge from its website.
The prevalence of death by accidental poisoning is an important public health problem in South Africa, especially in rural areas where immediate access to healthcare facilities is not always a possibility.
It is estimated that each year up to half a million people in South Africa are exposed to accidental or purposeful poisoning.
“However, many poisonings can be prevented and having basic knowledge on early and pre-hospital management of poisoning at hand could help save lives,” said Carine Marks, a specialist in poison information and the director of the TPIC.
“It only takes a minute or two to learn how to prevent a poisoning and what to do if it happens.
“By providing information in all 11 languages, we wanted to ensure that the appropriate information is available in a person’s language of preference,” said Ms Marks.
The charts include information on poisoning with pesticides, the management of medicine related overdosage, and biological toxins with reference to poisonous creatures and toxic plant exposures.
The TPIC offers an information service to heatlhcare specialists and the general public on how to deal with poisonings.
The centre is situated at the SU’s Faculty of Medicine Health Sciences on the Tygerberg Campus in Cape Town.
Members of the public can also contact the Poisons Informa- tion Helpline of the Western Cape, which serves South Africa and beyond, on 0861 555 777.
This 24-hour service is offered by specialists at the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre and the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital Poison Information Service.
You can download a poison information chart in your language of preference at: www.sun. ac.za/poisoncentre.