South Africa is the biggest user of pesticides in sub-Saharan Africa and has a widespread problem with pesticide poisoning.
Despite pesticide poisoning constituting a notifiable medical condition in South Africa, requiring healthcare professionals to notify instances to the National Department of Health, many cases continue to be under-reported. Current practice is to only report cases of poisoning from organophosphate-containing pesticides (OPs). However, the failure to report poisonings from other pesticides results in flawed nationwide data.
In collaboration with the University of Cape Town, CPSP has been collecting data to establish a picture of pesticide suicides in South Africa.
Between 2019 and 2020, data was obtained from all three Demographic Surveillance System (DSS) sites in the country. However, this demonstrated that DSS sites are not a major source of information on pesticide deaths.
We are now conducting a scoping review to examine other ways of obtaining data on poisoning in Africa. This will present a broad picture of how pesticide suicide deaths are recorded by identifying and assessing the various surveillance systems in place.
This research is being led by Professor Andrea Rother at the University of Cape Town.