By Lumbiwe Mwanza
The Human Rights Watch has released a report on lead exposure around a former lead and zinc mine in Kabwe Zambia, indicating the disastrous effects it still has on children’s health, and has since implored the Zambian government to promptly clean up the contamination and ensure proper treatment for all who need it.
the report titled, the impact of lead contamination on children’s rights in Kabwe, Zambia–“we have to be worried” indicates that more than one third of the population of Kabwe, live in lead-contaminated townships with estimates showing that half of the children in these areas have elevated blood lead levels that warrant medical treatment.
In an interview, Human Rights Watch Associate Director for Children’s Rights Juliane Kippenberg observed that government’s efforts to address the environmental and health consequences of the widespread lead contamination have not been sufficient.
Ms Kippenberg emphasized that the Zambian government should develop a program for sustainable, comprehensive lead remediation, testing, and treatment and establish a fund to support ongoing nutrition and health care needs for long-term.
Meanwhile the report also indicates the need for government to Ensure health workers at all levels of the public health system are effectively trained on lead poisoning detection and prevention, testing, post-test counseling, treatment, and patient confidentiality.
Human right watch points out the need for the Zambia Environmental Management Agency to Conduct an environmental impact assessment of small-scale mining on the site of the defunct Kabwe mine, and ensure that small-scale mining only takes place if it complies with all laws and regulations that protect human health and the environment.