Provincial Health Research Day Poster Presentation

14 Nov 2014 - 08:30

The poster, co-authored by Associate Professor Andrea Rother, Professor Leslie London and Dr. Katya Evans from Emergency Medicine, presented innovative translation of research findings and was one of three posters selected from 11 submissions from the Health Sciences Faculty at UCT.

The focus of the poster was based on work initiated by Assoc. Prof. Rother in 2006, when she led a ground-breaking research project which identified the extensive use of street (illegal) pesticides in Cape Town’s high density and poor communities (for which she received the 2010 VC Award for Social Responsiveness).  One consequence of the use of highly toxic agricultural pesticides for controlling domestic pests (such as cockroaches, rats, bed bugs, flies and fleas) was increased poisoning with neurotoxic pesticides, particularly involving children.  Pesticides poisonings are a notifiable condition in South Africa but underreporting is a severe problem, and the presence of unlabeled street pesticides adds another dimension to the problem. Health care providers may be unable to reach a diagnosis or report a poisoning correctly in the absence of information relating to the causative chemical agent.  Assoc. Prof Rother, in conjunction with Prof. London and other stakeholders, developed an algorithm for health professional to report poisoning involving both labeled and unlabeled pesticides.  Although 20,000 of these algorithm charts have been distributed to health professionals nationally, reaching health professionals is not easy.

Dr. Katya Evans, EM registrar, presenting       

In 2014, after recognizing the value of and using the algorithm in a Cape Town Emergency Centre, Dr. Katya Evans, Emergency Medicine Registrar and member of The Open Medicine Project, embarked on the process of adapting the tool to be included as a component of a mobile smartphone app. The team at The Open Medicine Project adapted the tool to be included in a new, free South African emergency medicine smartphone application entitled “EM Guidance”.  The enthusiasm and for support for this method of translation of research findings for health practitioners is evident from the worldwide total of 17 601 app users (of whom 3784 are South African and the remainder from predominantly developing countries), and the positive response from participants’ at the Provincial Health Research Day. 

This is a good example of translating research into risks and risk prevention into a clinical and informational tool that can contribute to better diagnosis, improved management, earlier notification and enhanced surveillance to support prevention of acute pesticide poisoning and its consequences in South Africa.

The algorithm can be downloaded at:

The app can be downloaded for iPhone or Android Phone by searching the App Store for “EM Guidance”.  For more information on The Open Medicine Project please visit: