Electronic waste dangerous to women, children - WHO

Electronic Waste (E-Waste)

Electronic Waste (E-Waste)

By Tosin Kolade

National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization (WHO) Nigeria, Dr Edwin Isotu-Edeh has urged the government to regulate and manage Electronic Waste (E-Waste) exposure in women and children.

Isotu-Edeh made the call at a Webinar on Electronic Waste and Public Health in Nigeria with the theme “Health Impacts of Electronic Waste In Nigeria: Are you a Victim or Perpetrator?.”

According to him, Nigeria’s national disease burden is linked to risk factors from the environment through electronic waste exposure.

He said pregnant women and children working in e-waste dismantling sites are most vulnerable to impacts and exposure, as the country has a high maternal and child mortality rate.

He added that “these e-waste materials pose a tremendous challenge for global health security on maternal and child health, given that Nigeria has a high burden of under-five mortality.

“This stands at 128 deaths per 1,000 live births; there is an urgent need to address the issue of e-waste, especially on children who are the future of our nation.

“The sustainability of the intervention is key to protecting Nigeria’s gains in maternal and child health.’’

He said Nigeria needed to do more in reducing rising cases of cancers and other non-communicable diseases by protecting the environment and reducing toxic emissions.

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He explained that low funding; low awareness of e-waste among government institutions and the absence of national policy and strategy were challenges to e-waste management in the country.

Isotu-Edeh, who stressed the need to coordinate and strengthen capacities on e-waste management, said “Africa is a dumping ground for electronic wastes largely from developed countries.”

He, however, acknowledged the committed leadership of the WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo in supporting the country to address the health impacts of e-waste.

Dr Shuaibu Bonji, the Director, Climate Change and Environmental Health, Federal Ministry of Health, restated Federal Government’s commitment to public health safety.

Bonji, who was represented by Dr Jaggu Akolo, said that the ministry was working to end the challenges of e-waste across the country, calling for more sustained partnership from stakeholders.

Dr Kingsley Okpara, the Director, Research and Documentation, Nigeria Environmental Summit Group, said no fewer than 18 million adolescents were involved in informal e-waste collection sites.

He said that activities such as burning and dismantling discarded electronic items had a huge impact on those living around the areas.

According to him, many site workers form the habit of burning products at night when law enforcement officers have closed from work.

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