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Time is running out to solveZamfara lead poisoning crisis


Time is running out to solve the Zamfara lead poisoning crisis

Médecins Sans Frontières calls on president to intervene to save Bagega


Abuja, Nigeria - Six months on from an International Lead Poisoning

Conference, Médecins sans Frontières warns that time is running out to

solve the Zamfara crisis. In a progress report, the medical humanitarian

organisation which has been treating lead poisoned children since the start

of the crisis, finds that very little action has been taken on any of the

agreed action points from the Conference.

Funds to tackle the Zamfara lead poisoning crisis – with a specific focus

on the remediation of Bagega village – were promised by the President in

May 2012, but have still not been released by the Secretary of the

Government of the Federation. Remediation is a process which removes lead

from the home environment. In the absence of remediation, children are

continually re-exposed to the toxins and medical treatment is useless.

“Bagega is reaching crisis point” said Michael White, Médecins Sans

Frontières’ acting head of mission in Nigeria. “More than two and a half

years after the lead poisoning disaster was first discovered, hundreds of

children are still awaiting critical medical treatment. Médecins Sans

Frontières is ready and willing to treat these children, but cannot do so

until their homes have been environmentally remediated. It’s time to get

the lead out of Bagega.”

Remediation was due to begin at the end of October 2012, directly after the

last rainy season. The window for remediation in Bagega is closing rapidly,

if the process is not started before the end of the year it will be too

late before the next rainy season. This could have disastrous consequences

for the community – if the funds are not released in November, Médecins

Sans Frontières’ chances of treating lead-poisoning victims in Bagega is

drastically reduced.

Médecins Sans Frontières has been treating victims of lead poisoning in

Zamfara since 2010. The medical humanitarian organisation maintains that a

successful resolution to the crisis must include a three-pronged approach

of professional remediation of affected villages, medical treatment to the

most vulnerable victims and the implementation of safer mining practices.

Médecins Sans Frontières has been collaborating closely with TerraGraphics,

an internationally-recognised remediation company that led the successful

remediation of seven villages in Zamfara state in 2010.

TerraGraphics, Médecins Sans Frontières and local stakeholders are all

ready to start work immediately upon the release of the funds. Both

organisations have been collaborating with Government agencies and

ministries to assure there is a system in place that is effective,

accountable, transparent and that will guarantee the best outcomes for the

communities of Bagega. This kind of collaboration ensures Nigerian

participation and ownership of both process and results while assuring

accountability and compliance with internationally recognised standards and

best practices.

Médecins Sans Frontières and TerraGraphics have done everything in their

power to address this crisis. In the end, the ultimate responsibility

rests with the people, and governments, of Nigeria. Only immediate action

by the Government can change the situation for the better.

Médecins sans Frontières is a medical humanitarian organisation that has

been providing emergency medical services throughout Nigeria since 1971.

Médecins Sans Frontières is not affiliated with any religion, government

agency or political party.

© Scoop Media

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