Endorsement of the Environmental health (lead) surveillance system in Georgia

25 April 2023
Chemical Risk-Factor Laboratory
UNICEF/Geo-2022/Valishvili

TBILISI 25 April, 2023. The Government of Georgia endorsed Environmental Health (lead) Surveillance System that will be piloted in two regions of Georgia in 2023. The system was developed for the National Centre for Disease Control with the support of UNICEF in cooperation with the Arctic University of Norway (UiT).

The surveillance system will monitor blood lead prevalence and change from year to year as well as help identify sources of lead exposure, which is crucial for eliminating lead poisoning. The surveillance system design envisages a totally new method of blood sample collection. The novelty is that only small volumes of capillary blood will be collected which is less invasive and stressful for children and at the same time, easier for handling as it uses dried blood kept at room temperature and does not require freezing and special storage conditions.  

The launch of the lead surveillance system also includes strengthening the capacity of the chemical risk factor research laboratory and its personnel. With this aim, additional equipment was purchased for the lab, such as: a sampling introduction system for discrete samples (ISIS) which in general, increases productivity of the lab and a digestion block which is required for the preparation of micro-volume samples for the analysis by the Inductively coupled plasma-mass-spectrometer (ICP-MS) equipment. Respective trainings are being planned for the laboratory personnel who will be actively involved in serving the lead surveillance system.

UNICEF and the government of Georgia have been cooperating in combating the problem of lead exposure in children since 2018, when the UNICEF-supported MICS survey revealed that 41 per cent of children in Georgia have elevated blood lead levels (BLL).  UNICEF has been actively assisting the country through advocacy, donor mobilization, and technical and financial support that in 2021 resulted in establishment of a chemical risk factor research laboratory equipped with cutting-edge equipment.

Media contacts

Maya Kurtsikidze
Communication Specialist, Head of Communication Section
UNICEF Georgia

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