More children in Ghana are becoming exposed to lead poisoning, Mrs Eunice Teah Dzagli, Health Promotion Officer, Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate, has observed.
She said the situation was due to the burning of waste, use of lead products, paints containing lead components and canned foods.
Lead poisoning is a type of metal poisoning caused by lead build-up in the body, usually over months or years.
Mrs Dzagli made the observation at a stakeholder behavioral change and communication meeting on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Lead Poisoning in Accra.
The meeting, attended by Regional, District Health Directors and Non- Governmental Organizations (NGO) served as an avenue to equip participants with relevant information on how to educate the public on lead poisoning and its effects and the promotion of hand washing as an infection prevention tool.
She said research had shown that about one in three children globally had blood lead levels above five micrograms, stating that, exposure to lead was very dangerous to the development of the brain because it could disrupt brain development, lead to anaemia and affect the entire growth of a child.
Madam Charity Nikoi, Communication for Development Officer at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said a survey dubbed; “The Toxic Truth: Children’s exposure to lead pollution undermines a generation of potential,” showed that lead was found in the breast milk of some breastfeeding mothers in Ghana.
She said the survey, which provided an analysis of childhood lead exposure in five countries, including Ghana, showed that lead components in usable water in Ghana was above the normal.
She said UNICEF would to that end, partner the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and other stakeholders to create awareness on lead poisoning and WASH in eleven selected districts in Accra and Kumasi.
“In Accra the project will be piloted in five communities where people are exposed to lead, these communities are; Agbogbloshie, Ashaiman, Nungua, Tema and Abossey Okai,” she said.
Ms. Nikoi said the programme would ensure that health promotion officers and environmental health officers engaged the selected communities to create awareness about lead poisoning and its effects on the health of mothers and children.
She said the lead poisoning and WASH awareness project was being piloted from now till the end of June 2022 to increase public knowledge on lead poisoning and promote the significance of hand washing as a key intervention to COVID-19 spread and other infectious diseases.
The survey, “Toxic Truth: Children’s exposure to lead pollution undermines a generation of potential,” said the sources of childhood lead exposure included; lead in water from the use of leaded pipes; lead from active industry such as mining and battery recycling, lead-based paint and pigments, lead solder in food cans, and lead in spices, cosmetics, medicines, toys and other consumer products.
The survey indicated that lead poisoning in babies and children under the age of five damaged their brains before they had had the opportunity to fully develop, leading to lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical impairment.
It said informal, illegal and unsafe recycling of lead-acid batteries was one of the biggest causes of lead exposure in areas where children played lived and went to school.