By JOHN SAKALA
Zambia Mining and Environmental Remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP) has trained frontline health personnel in Kabwe managing lead effects.
The health workers were trained in the screening and treatment of children exposed to Lead contamination.
Speaking at the training, Central Province Health Director Charles Msiska said Government recognises Lead contamination as a public health concern.
Dr Msiska said Government is committed to supporting efforts to reduce effects of Lead exposure on communities in affected parts of Kabwe.
“The training of health workers in the diagnosis and management of Lead contamination is long overdue and the procurement of the Laboratory equipment and drugs has come at the right time” he said.
He said the training of health workers formed part of Government’s agenda to address community health risks associated with Lead contamination and commended ZMERIP for the initiative saying this would improve health outcomes and help save more lives.
He said Kabwe district would like to integrate Lead screening into the main strategic plan for healthcare facilities for easy tracking and monitoring of patients with high blood Lead levels (BLL).
“We would like the interventions being developed to be sustained beyond the Project life cycle.”
He said health workers should think of Lead contamination in their differential when managing cases such as Anaemia, still births, miscarriages, poor birth weight, lower IQ and slower growth among others cases.
Dr Msiska called on the health personnel to educate the public on basic Public health to reduce on Lead exposure especially after coming into contact with the contaminated soils and dust.
Earlier, ZMERIP National Project Coordinator Gideon Ndalama said ZMERIP’s primary objective is to reduce environmental health risks and Lead exposure to population associated with the mining sector in critically polluted areas.
Mr Ndalama said the selected districts are Kitwe, Chingola, Mufulira and Kabwe on the Copperbelt and Central provinces respectively.
He said the training is significant and would help complement efforts being made to address the challenges facing the Lead affected communities.
Mr Ndalama explained that the Project has designed a multifaceted approach to provide free Lead screening and treatment for children and women with high blood Lead levels in Kabwe’s Makululu, Kasanda, Chowa, and Mutwe Wansofu townships.
“ZMERIP will addition to the health intervention provide nutritional supplements to vulnerable children with elevated blood Lead levels and support sustainable income generating activities targeting vulnerable women and youth groups to prevent them from further Lead exposure” added Mr Ndalama.
He said ZMERIP will soon embark on soil sampling in Lead affected communities to come up with an appropriate Environmental In-Situ remediation to be conducted in the hotspot areas.
An estimated 10,000 children and pregnant women highly exposed to Lead contamination will benefit from the free screening and treatment programme.
A total of 30 health workers comprising Nurses, Doctors, Clinicians, and Laboratory technicians, Pharmacists, Nutritionists and Public health officers attended the training.