LeadInternational Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Raises Awareness in Iran

International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Raises Awareness in Iran

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In an effort to combat childhood lead poisoning, the WHO country office in the Islamic Republic of Iran has joined forces with Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences (SBUMS) to organize the eleventh International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW) from October 22 to 28. The campaign, titled “End Childhood Lead Poisoning,” aims to tackle this critical issue in Iran.
The initiative commenced with a one-day symposium attended by healthcare professionals, policymakers, and academic communities. A total of 18 experts, including academics and practitioners, discussed the various health impacts of lead exposure, highlighting the urgent need for action to protect public health, particularly among children.

Lead Poisonings and Children

Lead, a widely recognized toxic substance, poses a significant threat to human health, affecting the neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and hematological systems. Children are especially vulnerable, absorbing four to five times more ingested lead than adults from the same source.
Dr. Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative and Head of Mission to the Islamic Republic of Iran, highlighted the detrimental effects of lead on young children and women of childbearing age. He stressed that there is no known safe level of lead exposure, but fortunately, lead exposure is preventable.
Global WHO data reveals a sobering statistic: in 2019, chemical exposures caused over 2 million worldwide deaths, with lead exposure responsible for nearly half of these fatalities. Furthermore, lead exposure resulted in 21.7 million years lost to disability (disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs) globally in 2019. This includes 30% of the global burden of idiopathic intellectual disability, 4.6% of the global burden of cardiovascular disease, and 3.0% of the global burden of chronic kidney diseases.

Awareness Week

The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week aims to raise awareness about the health effects of lead exposure and highlight the efforts of nations and partners to prevent lead exposure, particularly in children. It advocates for additional action to eliminate lead paint through national regulatory measures.

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Many countries have made progress by enacting laws to limit lead use in paint, especially in areas where children are exposed, such as homes, schools, and playgrounds, building upon the successful ban on using lead in petrol.

In order to expand awareness and target the campaign’s key beneficiaries, we developed and distributed height stickers featuring informative messages about the impact of lead exposure on children’s health to pediatricians attending the symposium. These stickers bear the message “Lead-Free Kids: Tall, Smart, and Healthier – Think of Lead Exposure” and feature animations of fruits and vegetables that help reduce lead absorption in the blood.

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