This is an interesting piece that I came across from Journal Watch worth sharing: MMWR details a case of lead poisoning in an infant of Nigerian descent who wore traditional eye makeup called tiro. The CDC is advising clinicians to look for cosmetic use in immigrant children with elevated lead levels.At his 6-month checkup, the infant had a blood lead level of 13 μg/dL, over twice the CDC’s reference value of 5 μg/dL. An investigation found that tiro, which was 83% lead, had been applied to the infant’s eyelids three or four times a week since he was 2 weeks old. It was said to improve attractiveness and promote healthy vision. Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants may use similar lead-containing products, for example, surma, kajal, and kohl. Accordingly, in the event of unexplained high blood lead levels, the CDC says, clinicians may want to consider cosmetics and folk remedies as a possible source.
I read this from the VOA and would like to share it with my blog visitors:
It was on late Thursday in Zamfara State, Nigeria, a fuel tanker overturned in a road accident and poured its entire contents into a nearby river, potentially impacting the drinking water of millions of people in Zamfara and neighboring Sokoto state. Officials say they currently don’t have the expertise or the equipment to clean up the oil and prevent another health disaster. Nigeria’s Zamfara state is also known for being the site of the worst lead poisoning outbreak in modern history, which is an ongoing crisis.
When Mouktar Lugga, the environment commissioner for Zamfara State, arrived on the scene of the fuel spill Friday morning, he saw about ten men standing nearby. They were artisanal gold miners, a mainstay of the local economy. But with 33,000 liters of industrial fuel in the river they couldn’t go to work.
Lugga says the tanker accident the previous night left oil slicks the size of two football fields on the river. He says Zamfara has neither the equipment nor the knowledge to clean up the spill and he is hoping the federal government will send technical experts to devise a clean-up plan.
I read this piece on Guardian Newspaper earlier today (25/4/2012) and decided to post it for the reading ‘pleasure’ of my blog visitors:
“AFRICA has been declared as making significant progress in the fight against measles. In the last 10 years, the continent was reported to have cut down deaths from measles by 85 per cent.
The statistics in Africa’s impressive crusade against the disease spread and death from the scourge, are contained in a report released yesterday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
And ahead of the global celebration of World Malaria Day today, stakeholders have called for sustained funding of all initiatives to kick out the disease from Nigeria.
The stakeholders, who included the National Coordinator of National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Dr. Chioma Amajoh, Family Care Association (FCA), and ExxonMobil Foundation, declared that only concerted efforts by both the government and private bodies could ensure that the gains recorded by the Roll Back Malaria initiative were not lost.
The new report on measles published yesterday in the Lancet, the world’s leading general medical and speciality journal in oncology, neurology and infectious diseases, noted that through increased routine coverage and large-scale immunisation campaigns, “Africa made the most progress with an 85 per cent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010.”
It said using a state-of-the-art methodology, accelerated efforts to reduce measles deaths have resulted in a 74 per cent reduction in global measles mortality, from an estimated 535,300 deaths in 2000 to 139, 300 in 2010.
Also, the partners leading efforts to control measles announced a new global strategy aimed at reducing measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero.
The Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, said: “A three-quarter drop in measles deaths worldwide shows just how effective well-run vaccination programmes can be. Now we need to take the next logical step and vaccinate children against rubella, too.”
WHO said since 2001, the Measles Initiative had supported developing countries to vaccinate over one billion children against measles. And in keeping with the new Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan to control and eliminate measles and rubella, the initiative has been renamed Measles and Rubella Initiative. Measles and rubella elimination go hand-in-hand as measles and rubella vaccines are routinely combined in a single shot.
The report underscored that progress in reducing measles deaths was especially strong from 2001 to 2008. However, when investment and political commitment to measles control faltered in 2008 and 2009, many children were not immunised. Measles came roaring back and caused large outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. In 2010, an estimated 19 million infants – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia – did not receive measles vaccine.
The report added that these outbreaks combined with a delayed start in intensifying measles control in India, meant that the goal of 90 per cent reduction in measles mortality by end 2010 compared with 2000 levels was not met. India accounted for about 47 per cent of global measles deaths in 2010. In addition, target dates for measles elimination in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean and European regions had to be revised.
Meanwhile, the plan to make the most potent anti-malarial drugs affordable by most Nigerians is allegedly being threatened by lack of funds.
The Federal Government through the NMCP planned to bring down the prices of WHO-approved Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) from N1,000 to N75 under the Affordable Medicines Facility Malaria (AMFM) project.
The Guardian learnt that in 2011, about 70 million treatment courses of ACTs were planned for procurement and delivery under AMFM. Of this, only about 38 million courses were bought and distributed to end-users.
National Co-ordinator of NMCP, Dr. Chioma Amajoh, told The Guardian that the 70 million treatment courses of ACTs represent more than 50 per cent of what was planned and considering the fact that it was the first procurement under the facility, it is a huge success and lessons learnt will be applied to overcome observable challenges in the supply chain processes.
This year’s World Malaria Day, with the theme: “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria,” Family Care Association and ExxonMobil Foundation warned that failure to adequately fund the project, would make the pursuit of the near-zero deaths from Malaria by 2015 impossible.
They said that achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health would be unrealistic.
As part of activities to mark the day, the two groups plan to train 300 medical personnel and community health workers on current issues on malaria diagnosis, treatment and control in Plateau, Kogi, and Lagos states this month.
The organisations have also concluded plans to hold free malaria screening tests and treatment at the Family Care Unit, Ikota Medical Centre, Lekki, Lagos, and distribute Long Lasting Insecticide-treated mosquito nets during the Nigeria Malaria Control and Prevention Programmes (NMCPP) campaign”.
Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.
I came across this important piece of article (courtesy Daily Trust Newspapers) and feel it is necessary I share it with my blog visitors: ‘About 63.6 million people in Nigeria do not have access to safe drinking water’. Enjoy….!
While 103 million do not have access to sanitation, the Country Representative of WaterAid in Nigeria, Michael Ojo has said.
Speaking at the water works and art exhibition for select primary schools in Abuja as part of activities to mark this year’s World Water Day, Ojo said that only 58 percent of Nigerians have access to portable water and only 31 percent have access to sanitation.
He said that water, sanitation and hygiene are human rights central to the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adding that they sit at the very heart of human development and underpin education, health and livelihoods for overcoming poverty.
He said that as part of their water works campaign which they launched during this year’s World Water Day, they decided to organize arts and essay competition in selected government schools in the FCT in order to join the campaign by contributing their own creative actions.
He called for action from the federal, states and local governments levels so that the people can have access to clean, safe and hygienic water.
I came across this news piece on Zamfara Lead Poisoning and would like to share it with readers to serve as an update:
A lead poisoning epidemic in Nigeria’s north that has killed 400 children and affected thousands is the worst in modern history, but clean-up has not even begun in many areas, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
“Thousands of children in northern Nigeria need immediate medical treatment and dozens of villages remain contaminated two years into the worst lead poisoning epidemic in modern history,” the US-based group said in a statement.
The group reiterated a previous official death toll of 400 children, with the poisoning having been caused by illegal gold mining in villages in northern Zamfara state.
Clean-up efforts have taken place in some areas and charities such as MSF have been treating victims, but more urgent work needs to be undertaken to address the problem, Human Rights Watch said.
It said that “environmental clean-up efforts have not even begun in numerous affected villages.”
“Research by Human Rights Watch in Zamfara in late 2011 found that children are exposed to this lead dust when they process ore in the mines, when their miner relatives return home covered with lead dust, and when the lead-filled ore is manually or mechanically crushed at home,” it said.
“Children can also be exposed to toxic lead in contaminated water and food.”
The extent of the poisoning began to come to light some two years ago.
Local communities had initially largely concealed or denied the fatalities and illnesses from lead poisoning for fear that authorities would ban their mining activities, an MSF official has said.
Illicit gold mining is more lucrative than agriculture for the impoverished farming communities.
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
As I was reading this interesting piece, what crossed my mind was Zamfara lead poisoning. It was reported that a panel of experts urges US government to lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children. This is in view of the fact that if the current threshold is maintained, developing brain of those exposed to lead could suffer which means lower IQ. This is a job well done for the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and the CDC of the US as the present lower level of 10 micrograms of lead per decilitre of blood would be downgraded to 5 micrograms. This lower level currently impact on about 450,000 children in the US but several millions in developing countries (eg Nigeria).
I was wondering if Zamfara issue is still receiving the right attention from the Nigeria government.
I strongly believe that there are so many unreported cases of lead poisoning in other parts of Nigeria. I also believe that with what we saw in Zamfara, some of the unexplained causes of childhood mortality and morbidity (convulsions, renal disorders, behavioural and hearing disorders etc) in Nigeria are not unrelated to lead poisoning.
I should commend W.H.O, US CDC, MSF and other International NGOs too numerous to mention for their tireless efforts on curbing the menace in Zamfara. If not because of their untiring support and commitment to issue of Zamafara lead poisoning, Nigerian Government alone would have thrown the issue long ago into the dustbin.
Malaria, a disease transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito, claims almost one million lives every year. It is disheartening to say that despite a century of research and campaigns on getting the best way to curb the menace of malaria across the globe, the sudden resurgence of malaria in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa now raises alarm about the global strategy to get rid of the disease.
Falling immunity among the population which is attributed to a decline in transmission in some parts of the world, there is now growing resistance to insecticides by the transmitting agent (mosquitoes) thus contributing to a rebound in the disease.
In addition to Global Fund for fight against infectious diseases and Roll Back Malaria programme, Bill Gates foundation is at the forefront fighting to bring an end to malaria and malaria related diseases. This resurgence in cases of malaria is now raising doubts about the worldwide strategy, led by Bill Gates, to wipe out the disease. It is on record that the Bill Gates foundation has distributed insecticide-treated bed nets and effective drugs to the 2.5 billion people who live in high-risk areas around the globe.
Following the intervention of Bill Gates foundation, funding for malaria control to date has soared to more than $10 billion (£6.5 billion), a figure that is hundredfold rise in a decade.
It is important to mention that Africa’s leaders in 2000 signed a declaration in Abuja, Nigeria to “halve the malaria mortality for Africa’s people by 2010″. The progress initially progress was slow but in 2007 reasonable progress has been made due to the increase availability of bed nets and artemesinin based drugs.
There is growing concern among experts as to what happens in a situation where malaria is controlled in a community leaving a generation of children grow up with no immunity to the disease and a sudden outbreak sets in. This is a puzzle yet unsolved though some experts are of the opinion that it is good to maintain some low level of immunity to malaria in the population to avoid such from happening. Read more here…………
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
I was going through some subscribed articles on my Blackberry handset then came across this interesting piece captioned: “Lead Poisoning in China: The Hidden Scourge”. The fist thing that came to my mind was the Zamfara State Lead poisoning saga in Nigeria which I analysed earlier in one of my postings on this blog.
This incidence occurred in MENGXI village in China which harboured a battery factory (Zhejiang Haijiu Battery Factory). The factory manufactures lead acid battery for use by motorcycles and electric bikes.
Interestingly, the factory in its 6th year of operation in the area (providing jobs and other source of livelihood to the populace), flagrantly violated environmental regulations and polluted the environment without the knowledge of the locals. This became overt last March, when a Medical doctor told the father of a 3 year-old (an employee of the factory who lived just across the road from the plant) that his daughter had absorbed enough lead that could harm her nervous system and irreversibly diminish her intellectual capacity.
The news had spread further that workers from that factory and other villagers alike had been poisoned by lead emissions from the factory, a development that pushed the locals to take laws into their hands.
It is important to mention that in China and especially in recent months, there were similar instances where the local governments authorities tried to cover up the messes of similar lead industries. This is often as a result of pursuit of dividends of economic development by the local officials thus overlooking environmental contamination, worker safety and dangers to public health.
It is as a result of this recent development that the Human Rights Watch released a report last Wednesday which stated that some local officials have reacted to mass poisonings by arbitrarily limiting lead testing, withholding and possibly manipulating test results, denying proper treatment to children and adults and trying to silence parents and activists.
In comparison to more developed nations where lead pollution has been tightly regulated for decades, this and similar incidences of lead poisonings in China, would for sure be deemed a public-health emergency.
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
In this 21st century of technological, medical and scientific advancement, mass lead poisoning is supposed to be a tragedy of the 19th and not the 21st century. In Nigeria, the story is completely different considering the massive lead poisoning which occurred early 2010 in Zamfara state, an arid poor region of north-western Nigeria.
I would like to briefly discuss the source, exposure pathways and adverse health effects of lead before reviewing the issue of lead poisoning in Zamfara.
Lead is a toxic heavy metal and occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. Its uses include car batteries, as pigments in paints, dyes, ceramic glazes, pesticides, ammunition, pipes, cable covers, use with other metals to make alloys, metal products (solder and pipes), sheets to protect people from X-ray radiation and until now added to gasoline to increase octane ratings.
Lead often enters the environment either through releases in the course of mining or recycling of lead and lead compounds. It can as well be released into the air by burning coal, oil or lead containing waste.
Exposure pathways could be through inhalation, ingestion (water, plants, animals), mother to child while in-utero, breast milk or skin (in low concentration).
Lead poisoning could either be acute or chronic depending on the amount, duration and route of exposure. The adverse health implications include: convulsions, neurological damage, impaired IQ, anaemia, neuromuscular disorders, and chronic headaches, cognitive defects, memory loss, infertility, miscarriages, teratogenic effects and hypertension.
Lead could be tested in water contamination using commercially available kits. Analysis of lead in whole blood is the most common and accurate method of assessing lead exposure in humans. The acceptable level of lead in the system by the CDC Atlanta, USA is 10µg/dL.
Zamfara is a poor state blessed with abundant mineral resources. It has enormous gold and lead deposits but unfortunately illegal mining has taken over the proceeds which is suppose to go into the state government’s treasury. This illegal mining, in which women make up more than 60 percent of the miners (thus their contact with contaminants affects the whole family), has great environmental consequences eg destruction of farmlands and distortion of the livelihood of agrarian communities.
In a recent report released by the UK International Development Department, it states that “Income and gender inequality are very high and some states in northern Nigeria have among the worst maternal mortality and girls’ primary school enrolment rates in the world.” Nigeria is sub-Sahara’s second largest economy, but ranked 154 out of 179 countries in the 2008 Human Development Index. It is also estimated that 72 million people live on less than a dollar a day.
It all started when villagers rushing for gold unwittingly freed lead particles from rocks using their bare hands thus polluting the environment with lead particles. This resulted in the contamination of soils and communal water supplies eg streams and ponds. The area of contamination with lead was far larger than originally estimated and heavy rain spreading the toxic lead. It has been shown that lead poisoning has killed at least 400 children within 2010 but the toll may not yet be fully counted considering the fact that some deaths are not reported to authorities, a typical attitude of villagers in a third world setting. The lead poisoning remained until when officials started looking into the cause of high mortality of children which initially the locals attributed to malaria. It was in March-April 2010 when Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) informed the Zamfara state Ministry of Health of an increasing number of childhood deaths and illness in villages in the area. The Zamfara health authorities informed the Federal Ministry of Health, who then sought the assistance of the country office of the World Health Organization (WHO), MSF and the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in investigating this outbreak. Also, the Blacksmith Institute sent a team from Terra Graphics Environmental Engineering Inc to conduct an environmental assessment.
Since the lead poisoning incidence was reported, it has been estimated that at least 10,000 people of which 2,000 children under 5 years of age are in acute danger of death or severe illness from seven villages. It was in June same year when Medecins Sans Frontires, in collaboration with the Federal and State Ministries of Health, WHO and Centre for Disease Control (CDC), started providing emergency treatment for children especially the under 5s who are the most vulnerable group.
In one of his writings, Joseph Amon of the Human Rights Watch says “The tragedy unfolding in Zamfara is not a simple act of nature. Rather, it’s the latest testament to the Nigerian government’s failure to make the health of its citizens a priority”. It is true to also say that considering its riches, impressive economic record in the comity of nations and its status as one of the top 10 world’s biggest producers of oil and gas, Nigeria has the worst public health indicators when compared with especially its African neighbours.
Nigeria’s health care is often underfunded and mismanaged leaving the local health care worst affected, another reason why outbreaks of any sort would easily progress to the point of killing hundreds of children before health authorities could step in.
Conclusively, it is my view that tragedies of this type could be avoided in future by increase in Government’s investment in Public health care, increasing transparency in governance and putting necessary mechanisms in place to counter corruption with a view to ensuring that Nigeria’s natural resource wealth is well protected for the good of all.
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.