The Ashanti Regional Health Directorate has engaged selected artisans, scrap dealers, scavengers, and automotive mechanics on the prevention of lead poisoning as part of a campaign to reduce exposure to lead, especially among children.
A total of 105 participants drawn from seven implementing Municipalities including Asokore Mampong, Suame, Afigya Kabre South, Asokwa, Atwima Nwabiagya North and Kumasi Metro were engaged.
The campaign dubbed, “UNICEF/GHS Communication for Development – Lead Poisoning Prevention is being funded by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
It seeks to create public awareness to the harmful effects of lead to the human body, especially children.
The sensitisation was, therefore, aimed at drawing the attention of the participants the damage lead was silently causing in their work, homes and the environment.
This way, they can educate their colleagues on how to prevent lead poisoning and also aid the work of health workers when they visit their workplaces and communities to talk about lead poisoning.
Dr. Emmanuel Tinkorang, the Regional Director of Health Services who welcomed the participants, reminded them of the role they could play to reduce the risk of exposure to lead as industry players.
He said the nature of their work made them vulnerable to lead poisoning and advised them to use protective gears to reduce the risk.
He charged them to be advocates for awareness creation to complement efforts of health workers to save lives.
Dr Michael Rockson Adjei, the Deputy Director in Charge of Public Health, said 240 million were globally overexposed to lead poisoning with a chunk being in developing countries.
He said the greatest burden of lead poisoning was in low and middle income countries, saying that such countries were susceptible due to poor nutrition, high proportion of children, few regulations on lead industries and absence of health screening programmes.
Children living in older houses, pregnant women and developing foetus are mostly at risk of lead exposure, Dr Adjei indicated.
According to him, pregnant women could pass lead to their unborn children which often caused brain damage, resulting in lowered Intelligence Quotient (IQ), learning disabilities, attention deficit and hyperactivity.
The Deputy Director said there were often no visible symptoms of lead in the individual and that the only way to determine high blood lead level was a blood test.
He said the more lead one was exposed to over time, the greater the person’s risk of disease and stressed the need for the participants to protect themselves and the families, especially children.