International lead poisoning prevention week of action
23-29 October 2016
Lead poisoning is entirely preventable, yet the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that in 2013 lead exposure accounted for 853 000 deaths and 16.8 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) due to long-term health effects, with the highest burden in developing regions. Of particular concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children.
Even though there is wide recognition of the harmful effects of lead and many countries have taken action, exposure to lead, particularly in childhood, remains of key concern to health care providers and public health officials worldwide.
An important source of lead exposure, particularly in children, is paint containing high levels of lead. These paints are still widely available and used in many countries for decorative purposes, although good substitutes without lead are available.
At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, governments called for the phase-out of lead-based paint. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (Lead Paint Alliance) was formed in 2011 to promote the phase-out of the manufacture and sale of paints containing lead and eventually to eliminate the risks that such paints pose. A key requirement for achieving this is the establishment of appropriate national regulatory frameworks to stop the manufacture, import, export, distribution, sale and use of lead paints and products coated with lead paints. In its Business Plan, the Lead Paint Alliance set a target that by 2020 all countries should have in place such a regulatory framework, with a view to phasing out the use of lead paint altogether. In a survey carried out by WHO and the United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP), which jointly coordinate the Lead Paint Alliance, as of 30 June 2016 only 62 governments confirmed that they have legally binding control measures on lead paint. Clearly more work is needed on this issue and International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week provides an opportunity to mobilize political and social commitment for further progress.
During the campaign week, the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint aims to:
- Raise awareness about lead poisoning;
- Highlight countries and partners' efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning; and
- Urge further action to eliminate lead paint.
National Poisons Information Service
The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) is the UK Departments of Health approved, and Public Health England commissioned, national service that provides expert advice on all aspects of acute and chronic poisoning.
The role of the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) is to reduce the burden of healthcare associated with poisoning by the provision of rapidly available, consistent and evidence-based advice to front-line NHS healthcare professionals. The purpose of this advice is to facilitate optimal clinical management of patients with confirmed or suspected poisoning and those who are (or may be) exposed to medicines or other potential poisons during pregnancy. Where toxicity is low, NPIS offers advice to minimise unnecessary hospital attendances and admissions.
The service comprises four individual Units, based in Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Newcastle. Each Unit is staffed by Consultant Clinical Toxicologists and Specialists in Poisons Information who work together to provide a seamless national service that has been established for 50 years.
The National Poisons Information Service is the service to which frontline NHS staff turn for advice on the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients who have been - or may have been - poisoned, either by accident or intentionally.
NPIS is funded mainly through ‘Government Grant in Aid’ from the UK Health Departments, some contract income and some research income.