The Ashanti Regional Health Directorate has inaugurated a Lead Poisoning Prevention Steering Committee to lead an advocacy campaign on the prevention of lead poisoning in the Region.
The 11-member committee would advocate for policies and bye-laws against lead poisoning and engage stakeholders in the lead industry to limit environmental and occupational exposure to heavy metals.
It has also been mandated to promote the institutionalisation of lead poisoning awareness creation as part of routine health education at service delivery points and advocate for testing and treatment facilities for lead poisoning.
The inauguration of the committee formed part of a campaign dubbed, UNICEF/GHS Communication for Development (C4D) “ Lead Poisoning Prevention, which sought to draw public attention to the harmful effects of lead poisoning on the human body, especially children.
Funded by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the concept, aimed at protecting the potential of every child is being implemented in six selected municipalities including Asokore Mampong, Afigya Kwabre South, Old Tafo, Asokwa, Suame and Kumasi Metro.
Mr Micah Asare Bediako, the Deputy Director of Health Services in charge of Administration who inaugurated the committee, reminded members that their inclusion was a call to serve humanity and charged them to show commitment to fighting against lead poisoning in the region.
He said lead poisoning had been a major health challenge for many years and that the inauguration of the committee was a giant step towards tackling the menace head-on and urged all stakeholders to put their shoulders to the wheel to protect lives.
He said the committee had a lot of work to do to minimise the environmental and health risks of lead and implored members to hit the ground running to achieve the desired results.
Dr Edith Clarke, a Representative from UNICEF, said lead could affect the cognitive aspect of children’s brain leading to low Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and learning disabilities.
It can cause children to perform poorly in school and as a result even their ability to socialise is affected apart from the fact that it can affect other organs,â€ she highlighted the dangers of lead poisoning.
She applauded the Regional Health Directorate and all other stakeholders for the zeal and commitment exhibited towards the campaign, adding that lead exposure should be everyone’s problem because a huge number of people were at risk.
Dr Emmanuel Tinkorang, the Regional Director of Health Services, said with the support of UNICEF, the Directorate had done an assessment, which showed that a lot of people were at risk of lead poisoning in the region.
He said lead could be found in so many chemicals and silently kill people hence the inauguration of the committee to spearhead advocacy for its prevention would help save lives.
“Unfortunately, lead is not biodegradable and for that reason, children walking around refuse dumps are always contaminated with lead by either inhaling it or picking items with bare hands,” he said.
Apart from the advocacy role of the committee, the Directorate would also conduct clinical assessments to see the level of lead in children, according to the Regional Director.