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Let’s create awareness about women’s health – Ashaiman Health Director

Mrs Patience Ami Mamattah, the Ashaiman Health Director, has called on all stakeholders to create awareness about women’s health, especially the negative effects of lead on women and children.

Mrs Mamattah, speaking at a programme to commemorate International Women’s Day said, ‘On this day of the International Women’s Day celebration, I call on everyone, everywhere, to play a key part in helping women and children survive in the Ashaiman municipality.’

The programme, organised with support from Pure Health Ghana and New Crystal Hospitals, was also to create awareness about the negative effects of lead, especially on pregnant women, the foetus, and young children.

She said the day was not only to acknowledge prominent women in society but also to reflect on and create awareness about women’s issues, including equality and the actions needed to bring about positive change to advance women, as well as raise funds to support any course of action for women.

She called for the minimising of activities that con
taminate the environment with lead and, rather, improving environmental health and protecting vulnerable people, including children.

She stated that it is a known fact that rapid, uncontrolled urbanisation has become a big challenge for most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with Ghana included, indicating that this has resulted in the mass movement of people, including women and girls, to relocate from any part of the West African sub-region to the Ashaiman Municipality to look for greener pastures.

‘Since their migration is not regulated and controlled, there has not been any provision of ready accommodation and jobs for them, resulting in them settling in parts of the municipality that,

under normal circumstances, they shouldn’t have due to high levels of pollutants like lead,’ he noted.

She said that such female migrants, together with their partners, engage in vocations such as recycling used car batteries without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), regardless of the hazards pose
d both to their health and that of the unborn foetus.

The Health Director disclosed that in 2023, the Ashaiman Municipal Health Directorate, in collaboration with Pure Earth Ghana and other partners, undertook a study that measured blood lead levels in children under five years old, which gave staggering results.

She disclosed that almost 60 percent of the 450 children studied had blood lead levels above the recommended threshold.

‘WHO identified lead as one of the major public health concerns needing action by all to protect the health of workers, children, and women of reproductive age,’ she said, adding that lead contamination results from the inhalation of lead particles generated by burning materials containing the mineral.

This, she observed, happens during smelting, recycling, stripping leaded paint, and stripping plastic cables containing lead, among others, adding that another means of contamination is by ingesting lead-contaminated dust, water from leaded pipes, and food from lead-glazed or lead
-soldered containers.

Mrs Mamattah said research had shown that undernourished children were more susceptible to lead poisoning because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium or iron, were lacking.

She stressed that lead was harmful to young children and women of childbearing age, as it could, among others, cause hypertension in pregnant women, cause damage to the foetus in utero, including birth defects and neurological damage, cause miscarriages, pre-term birth, and low-birth-weight babies.

She added that for children in general, lead could damage their kidneys, brains, and nervous systems and also slow down growth and development, which results in learning and behaviour problems, hearing and speech problems, a lower intelligent quotient, decreased ability to pay attention, under performance in school, anaemia, renal impairment, immunotoxicity, and toxicity to the reproductive organs, among others.

She said, looking at the numerous effects of lead on women and children, stakeh
olders must help protect them by providing them with PPE and investing in the women to engage in healthy, hazard-free work.

Source: Ghana News Agency