Israeli scientific delegation will support the National Center of Disease Control in improving capacity and methodology to test lead in blood
TBILISI, Georgia, 14 February 2022 – UNICEF, in partnership with the Israeli Embassy to Georgia and MASHAV - Israel’s International Development Cooperation Agency, is supporting the National Centre of Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) in its efforts to test lead in blood. Four leading Israeli experts will assist in upgrading the facilities of the Chemical Risk Factor laboratory, train the local team in utilizing its full potential and share their experience with local partners.
In addition, considering a high prevalence of lead in children’s blood in Georgia, Israel has offered to assist the Georgian authorities in identifying possible sources of exposure of lead and other metals in river basins. The Israeli hydrologist will visit three regions, where blood lead prevalence is particularly high, to collect water samples that will be analyzed in Israel and in Georgia. It is hoped that the findings will contribute to a future national strategy to eliminate the problem and improve health conditions for children in Georgia as well as the population at large.
Israel is recognized to be a world leader in all research, technological and innovative aspects pertaining to water.
“This year we are marking the 30th anniversary of Israeli-Georgian diplomatic relations. This is a good opportunity not only to look back with pride on what has already been achieved, but also to look forward and identify further spheres of cooperation. In this respect – there is no higher priority than securing the good health of infants and children. Therefore, Israel is proud to cooperate with the NCDC & UNICEF office on this important project, and we are happy to share our proven technological expertise and scientific research with our Georgian friends and UN partners“, said H.E. Ran Gidor, Israeli Ambassador to Georgia.
“UNICEF is delighted to partner with the Israeli Embassy and MASHAV to support the National Centre of Disease Control and Public Health in addressing the problem of high lead level in the blood of children in Georgia”, - Dr Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia.
“To tackle the problem, UNICEF developed a three-phase strategy that encompassed understanding the problem through survey, searching for sources of lead, and developing a national response plan. UNICEF support is also focused on building laboratory capacity and establishment of environmental health surveillance system” Khalil added.
The Chemical Risk Factor laboratory was equipped in 2021 by UNICEF, with support of different donors, providing the National Centre of Disease Control with advanced equipment to detect lead and other elements in various specimens (e.g. blood, biological fluids, paint, etc.). International experts provided trainings for the laboratory staff to operate the equipment.
The building of laboratory capacity is part of the Government’s response plan to prevent lead exposure and to protect children from the related toxic effects. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by UNICEF in 2018 revealed that 41 per cent of children in Georgia were found to have blood lead levels equal to or greater than 5 μg/dL - about ten times higher than the prevalence found in developed countries.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/