By JOHN SAKALA
Mines and Minerals Development Minister Richard Musukwa says over 5, 000 people working in the mining industry in Zambia have been screened for different occupational Lung diseases.
Mr Musukwa said the 5, 000 miners were screened between 2017 and 2018, with results showing increased lung diseases detection.
He was speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa when he delivered a key note address at the first Pan-African Occupational Health and Safety Conference, held under the theme “Occupational Safety and Health in Africa: Challenges and Actions”.
Mr Musukwa said the screening was being conducted at the newly established State-of-the-Art Regional Centre of Excellence located at the Occupational Health and Safety Institute in Kitwe district of the Copperbelt Province.
He mentioned that the facility was accessible to all SADC member countries as it had state-of the- art reading machines and highly trained occupational medical practitioners.
Mr Musukwa said Zambia has strengthened mine health regulations by revising some laws that were prohibitive and increased the risk of infections in the mining industry.
He urged member countries of the Occupational Safety and Health Organization, employers and workers to join hands in fighting injustices caused by poor occupational health and safety accidents
And Mr Musukwa mentioned that mining-related environmental liabilities have the potential to erode economic benefits that the mining sector has achieved in many African countries including Zambia.
He said environmental liabilities resulting from the use of mercury in mineral processing may negatively affect communities and cause health problems for people.
He observed that Small-Scale mining in Africa was complex and critical sector that needed government’s intervention to address many safety and health challenges it was facing.
Mr Musukwa said that most Artisanal Small Scale mining in many African countries were faced with poor health and sanitation facilities as well as high prevalence of communicable diseases such as Silicosis, Tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
Over 800 delegates from Africa participated at the conference under the auspices of NEPAD, African Union, International Labour Organization and World Bank.
This is according to a media statement made available to The Independent Observer by First Secretary Press and Public Relations at Zambia’s High Commission in South Africa Naomi Nyawali.