Picture and Story by Hope Mkunte
The Zambia Mining and Environmental Remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP) has trained 30 frontline health personnel in Kabwe district for the screening and treatment of children exposed to Lead contamination.
ZMERIP has also procured laboratory equipment and drugs to treat high blood Lead levels in an estimated 10,000 children and pregnant women in Lead hotspots such as Kasanda, Mutwe Wa Nsofu, Makululu and Chowa compounds.
The training was one of many before the roll out of the free screening and treatment of Lead.
Speaking at the training, Central Province Health Director Dr Charles Msiska said Government recognises Lead contamination as a public health concern and 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 it is good that government is addressing community health risks associated with Lead contamination”
He 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.”
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 in selected districts of Kitwe,Chingola, Mufulira and Kabwe on the Copperbelt and Central provinces.
Mr Ndalama said the training is significant and would help complement efforts being made to address the challenges facing the Lead affected communities.
“ZMERIP will also provide nutritional supplements to vulnerable children with elevated blood Lead levels and give financial support to vulnerable women and youth groups for them to start sustainable income generating activities.” He said.
Mr Ndalama 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.