USAID, SON partner to fight lead poisoning in Nigeria

The United States Government through its Agency for International Development (USAID) has agreed to collaborate with the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), towards mitigating cases of lead poisoning in Nigeria.

This is contained in a statement by the spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy, Aisha Gambari, in Abuja.

Gambari said that USAID’s Nigeria Mission Director, Melissa Jones, made this known during a courtesy visit to SON’s  Director-General, Dr. Ifeanyi Okeke, in Abuja.

Gambari explained that the partnership included plans to enhance surveillance, regulation, and enforcement of standards related to consumer goods and paints in Nigeria.

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“USAID is committed to leading the Government of Nigeria’s mitigation efforts to save Nigerian children from further risk of lead exposure.

“USAID will provide technical assistance to SON to raise awareness about the safe use of products that contain lead, support Nigeria in joining the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (Lead Paint Alliance).

“It will aid SON in enacting legislation to identify lead-containing products and its manufacturers, while SON will lead engagement with other federal agencies working on lead removal in high-risk communities,” the statement quoted Jones as saying.

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She said Okeke explained that to limit lead in consumer goods and paints, SON had adopted global and regional standards prohibiting the production and importation of paint products with lead concentration beyond 90 parts per million.

He said that in April, 2024, SON would participate in a U.S.-Nigeria Bi-National Commission meeting, to contribute to technical discussions on policy framework, regulation, and sensitization on lead mitigation in Nigeria.

“A 2011 survey by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that unsafe mining and ore processing are the leading causes of lead poisoning in Nigeria.

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“USAID leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help nations progress beyond assistance.

“In Nigeria, USAID supports health systems strengthening, transparent and accountable governance, basic education, and a more market-led, trade-friendly economy,” she further said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that lead can affect individuals of any age, but children are particularly vulnerable due to their behavioral patterns and susceptibility to toxicity at lower exposure levels.

Globally, an estimated one-third of children have blood lead concentrations that impair cognitive development and contribute to learning disabilities and attention deficits.

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