To determine the prevalence of asbestos exposure among the mine workforce from Transkei.
Between May 1997 and May 2000, 2,027 ex-mineworkers were examined at the Benefit Examination Clinic, a clinic located in the chest section of Umtata General Hospital (UGH), the teaching hospital of the University of Transkei, Eastern Cape, South Africa. A structured questionnaire with 17 questions were prepared and posted to 644 randomly selected ex-mineworkers. Four hundred and six (63%) duly completed questionnaires were received, which were later, compiled and analyzed with the help of Epi Info6 computer programme.
Of the 644 questionnaires posted, 406 were returned. Of them 81(20 %) has had exposure to asbestos. Half the number 41(50%) of those exposed was between 40-59 years old. Among those who had been exposed, 8(10%) were smokers, 63(78%) asthmatics, and 56(69%) had a history of tuberculosis. Seventy- three (90%) complained of deterioration of health.
One fifth of the mine workforce has had exposure to asbestos.
These findings will help compensation authorities, policy makers, and clinicians in understanding of the asbestos problem in this region of South Africa.
Banwari Meel, None.