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Paraffin (kerosene) poisoning in under-five children: A problem of developing countries


  • Wananani Tshiamo RN, MSN, (PhD student)

    1. Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing Science, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
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  • This fuel source is called paraffin in some countries and kerosene in others.

Wananani Tshiamo, School of Nursing, University of Botswana, Private Bag UB 00702, Gaborone. Email:


Although developed countries have largely eliminated the problem of paraffin ingestion in young children, many developing countries have not. Paraffin, used as a home energy source, particularly in rural area, accounts for a significant percent of paediatric poisoning and can lead to serious health problems, complications and death.

This paper presents a review done by a nurse clinician concerned about the number of paediatric poisonings she saw in the hospital in one developing country, Botswana. The first stage of solving the problem is presented in which she established the extent and epidemiology of the issue. Suggestions for its solution are also discussed. It is hoped that this can serve both to increase awareness in developing countries of the dangers of paraffin poisoning and serve as a model for nurse clinicians and researchers in developing countries.

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