LEAD POISONING: HEALTH MINISTER WARNS ZAMFARA STATE
BY VICTORIA OJEME
ABUJA - Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has warned residents of Zamfara State against another lead poisoning in the area.
He explained that the battle against lead poisoning in Zamfara State was not yet over, and pushed for safer mining practices for miners in the area in order to reduce human exposure to lead.
The minister gave the warning in his speech read by the Director of Public Health in the Ministry, Dr. Mansur Kabiru, at an International Conference on Lead Poisoning in Abuja.
He said: 'I wish to sound a note of warning at this point. Although we have made significant progress in controlling lead poisoning outbreak in Zamfara State, the battle is not yet over.
'For us to sustain the gains we have made, we need to strengthen coordination among stakeholders so that the collective national interventions can be cost effective.
'Sadly, there are reports of persistence of mining activities in domestic settings in some of the affected villages. If this continues, you will agree with me there is likelihood of re-contamination of previously remediated villages and exposure of children to lead. We must not allow this to happen.
'We must protect our children from the long-term neurological complications of lead poisoning and untimely death. We also need to develop safer mining practices for these miners so as to limit human exposure to lead.'
To streamline mining activities in the state, Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who was represented by the Commissioner for Water Resources, Abdullahi Tsafe, said the State had commenced registration of Small Scale Mining Cooperative Societies.
According to him, Zamfara State is also looking at ways to strengthen its laws to regulate children's access to mining and processing sites.
'We shall be commissioning our first fully government supported Ccooperative society this month. We shall do the same for the other societies that have so far indicated interest to be part of this programme,' he stated.
It is recalled that two years ago, lead poisoning in Zamfara State claimed the lives of about 400 children under the age of five years, which resulted from artisanal gold mining activities carried out in domestic areas.