Poisons Information Centre

About Us

The Poisons Information Centre at Red Cross Children’s Hospital has compiled, collated and researched information on the diagnosis and treatment of potentially poisonous substances, animals and plants since the 1980’s.

This information is packaged as the database AfriTox® which is designed to help medical professionals throughout Southern Africa diagnose and treat poisoned adults and children. AfriTox® is widely distributed to doctors and treatment facilities and it underpins the poisons emergency telephone service.

The Poisons Information Centre is staffed by medical doctors and specially trained pharmacists and is dedicated to providing up-to-date, well-researched and peer-reviewed information on a wide spectrum of toxins, including locally available commercial products and South African poisonous plants and animals.

The running costs of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Poisons Information Centre are partly supported by the Western Cape Department of Health and partly by private donations through the Children’s Hospital Trust.

The services we offer:

AfriTox® poisons information database
The intellectual property rights to AfriTox® belong to UCT.

Teaching and education

  • Education of health care professionals in an approach to poisoning
  • Teaching of medical students and pharmacy interns 
  • Public education in prevention of poisoning through the media, talks to interest groups.

Poisons Emergency Telephone Service

The Poisons Information Helpline is a 24 hour service for the public and health care workers, provided by the staff of the Poisons Information Centres at Red Cross Children’s Hospital and Tygerberg Hospital.

The service provides

  • Help with poisonings caused by unidentified toxins
  • Information on managing poisoning by substances including 
    • Medicines and drugs
    • Chemicals
    • Pesticides
    • Household products
    • Plants and animals