USAID, SON Collaborate To Reduce Lead Poisoning, Safeguard Children

L-R: The director-general, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Dr. Ifeanyi Okeke and the USAID/Nigeria Mission director, Melissa Jones during a courtesy visit to discuss USAID’s support in addressing lead exposure in Nigeria.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have entered into a partnership to address lead poisoning in Nigeria. 

This collaborative effort aims to strengthen surveillance, regulation, and enforcement of standards related to consumer goods and paints to protect the health of Nigerian children.

Lead exposure poses significant risks, particularly to children, who are more susceptible to its toxic effects due to their behavioral patterns and lower tolerance levels. Globally, a considerable number of children suffer from impaired cognitive development and learning disabilities due to lead exposure. Unsafe mining and ore processing have been identified as the primary causes of lead poisoning in Nigeria, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011.

The mission director of USAID/Nigeria,Melissa A. Jones expressed the agency’s commitment to leading Nigeria’s efforts in mitigating lead exposure risks for children. USAID will provide technical assistance to SON to raise awareness about the safe use of lead-containing products, facilitate Nigeria’s participation in the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint and support the enactment of legislation to identify lead-containing products and manufacturers. Additionally, SON will spearhead engagement with other federal agencies to address lead removal in high-risk communities.

The director-general of SON,Dr. Ifeanyi Chukwunonso Okeke emphasised the organisation’s adoption of global and regional standards to limit lead content in consumer goods and paints. SON has implemented regulations prohibiting the production and importation of paint products with lead concentrations exceeding 90 parts per million.

As part of the collaboration, SON will participate in the United States and Nigeria Bi-National Commission meeting in April 2024. This engagement will contribute to technical discussions on policy frameworks, regulations and awareness campaigns regarding lead mitigation efforts in Nigeria.

The partnership between USAID and SON underscores the shared commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of Nigerian children by addressing the risks associated with lead exposure. Through coordinated efforts and enhanced standards enforcement, the initiative aims to mitigate lead poisoning and create a safer environment for future generations.

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