Ghana takes significant strides to protect every child’s potential
Partners collaborate to strategize addressing and preventing lead poisoning in children in Ghana
The Ghana Health Services, the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency, Pure Earth and UNICEF convened stakeholders for a two-day conference in Accra and Kumasi, during the International Lead Poisoning and Prevention Week, to address the increasing rate of lead poisoning in children in Ghana and adopt a holistic approach to implement a national plan of action, including support to mainstreaming in existing national and sub-national programmes.
In Ghana, over 1.7 million children are estimated to have blood lead levels exceeding 5 micrograms per deciliter - the level above which there is cause for concern. To decrease this worrying rate, the Government of Ghana, UNICEF and Pure entered a three-year plan in 2020 to mobilize action and to prevent children’s exposure to lead, with funding from the Clarios Foundation.
UNICEF has been working with partners to raise awareness in communities on preventive measures, supporting training of health staff in diagnosing and treating cases of lead poisoning. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Factories Inspectorate are working at enforcing control measures and putting standards in place to minimize emissions from lead-based factories into the environment.
Speaking at the stakeholder conference, Ruth Situma, Acting Chief of Health and Nutrition of UNICEF in Ghana said, “ It is the child who scavenges daily for metal scraps, or for used lead acid lorry batteries, electronic gadgets and is exposed to lead-infused paint, who is most at risk. UNICEF will continue to work with the Ghana Health Service through a multi-stakeholder approach with MMDAs, businesses, our United Nations colleagues, academia and civil society to address the emerging health crisis caused by lead exposure and to help Ghanaian children thrive in lead-free environments.”
In the coming years, UNICEF will support the Ghana Health Service to conduct blood-lead testing to ascertain the extent of the problem of the issue, especially among children. Data to be collected will help to provide more evidence on the extent and severity of the problem.
UNICEF, Pure Earth and partners are also educating parents and guardians through various channels to ensure that children are prevented from consuming paint peeling or flaking off buildings and their children’s hands are washed frequently especially after playing outside.
Children should also be prevented from playing with used lead acid batteries.
Scrap handling activities must also be stationed far away from where pregnant women (who are also at high risk) live and work and where children play. Parents working in lead-based industries must be made aware of the dangers associated, in order not to avoid bring it home or exposing their families to it.
About the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formally established on 30th December 1994 (Act 490) and given the responsibility of regulating the environment and ensuring the implementation of Government policies on the environment. It is the leading public body for protecting and improving the environment in Ghana.
About the Ghana Health Service
The Ghana Health Service is a Public Service body responsible for implementation of national policies under the control of the Minister for Health through its governing Council - the Ghana Health Service Council. The service provides and prudently manages comprehensive and accessible health service with special emphasis on primary health care at regional, district and sub-district levels in accordance with approved national policies.
About Pure Earth
Pure Earth partners with governments, communities and industry leaders to identify and implement solutions that stop toxic exposures, protect health, and restore environments.
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.