Photo: One-and-a-half-year-old Husseini and his twin brother are both on chelation therapy for lead poisoning. Nigeria 2012 © Olga Overbeek/MSF
Time Running Out for Nigeria Lead Poisoning Victims
The Nigerian government has failed to promptly release funds needed to remove lead from homes in a northern area of Nigeria, worsening a health crisis in which hundreds of children have fallen ill or died from lead poisoning since 2010.
Funds to tackle an ongoing lead poisoning crisis in Zamfara District—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. The remediation process removes lead from the environment. Without it, children are continually re-exposed to lead toxins, rendering medical treatment useless. MSF has been treating victims of lead poisoning in Zamfara district since it was discovered in 2010.
“Bagega is reaching a crisis point,” said Michael White, acting head of mission for 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. MSF 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.”