Lead exposure was identified as one of the major emerging policy issues during the second International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) in 2009. The ICCM launched the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint (GAELP) as a voluntary initiative under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNEP in order to protect human health and the environment. The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (IPPWA) was launched in 2011 and it takes place in the last week of October since 2013. It focuses and catalyzes the efforts of diverse stakeholders to prevent childhood and occupational lead exposure.
This year, the Department of Chemistry of the University of Nairobi joined the Global Community in observing the 11th ILPPWA between the 23rd and 28th of October 2023. The Department organized a series of events with high media coverage for the week. The lined-up activities culminated into a one-day awareness and training workshop which targeted frontline health workers and key stakeholders at the Dandora 2 Health Centre.
Dandora 2 Health Centre is a catchment area for women from low socioeconomic backgrounds seeking maternal and prenatal care. In this setting lead exposure sources are heightened by considerably human activities that are unique. The severity of health outcomes as a result of these exposures is not uniform among the population that is faced with a combination of different exposure pathways. The regulations and established limit values for lead exposures are only useful when they are routinely and accurately monitored. Limited lead assessment and health capabilities are among the challenges that are encountered in establishing a lead exposure health program.
Nevertheless, the Department of Chemistry recently assessed mother-neonate pair blood lead levels (BLLs) from the Dandora and Kariobangi in Nairobi County in Kenya under the supervision of Dr. Faridah Hussein Were, and collaborating on the ongoing ABC Cohort Study in the same setting running from 2021 to 2025 focused on characterizing BLLs and neurodevelopment in children spearheaded by the University of Washington. It is in this context that the awareness/training workshop is undertaken to develop a framework to prevent and manage lead exposure at the household and community levels.
The workshop provided an opportunity that serves as a platform with the sole purpose of sharing the generated data to assist in developing a framework for the prevention and clinical management of lead exposure at the household and community level. it will also strengthen the work in progress to ease the implementation process and the sustainability of the project especially since there are several sources of lead exposure in these communities.