Knowledge assessment of lead poisoning precautionary measures among women of child-bearing age in high lead exposure residential areas in Kabwe District
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Lead poisoning contributes 0.9 per cent of developing countries’ disease burden. Lead poisoning is due to excessive lead exposure to the human body. In Zambia, Kabwe is one of the most affected towns due to its previous mining activities. Studies done by ZCCM-IH and others show that currently, 35 per cent of Kabwe’s population or 13,952 households in Katondo, Railways, Chowa, Kasanda and Makululu are exposed to high levels of lead with a median soil concentration of above 500mg/kg, 48 per cent of child bearing age women were exposed to lead poisoning. This prompted ZCCM-IH to conduct sensitization. However, health institutional data has continued to show a high number of children being diagnosed with lead poisoning. Therefore the study attempted to answer the research question whether women of child-bearing age in Kabwe’s high lead residential exposure areas know the precautionary measures against Lead poisoning in their homes. Women who were able to answer/list at least eight types of lead poisoning preventive measures were considered knowledgeable. The purpose of the study was to assess the extent of knowledge of precautionary measures among women of child-bearing age who stay in high lead poisoning exposure residential areas in Kabwe because of their triple roles they play in the prevention of lead poisoning in homes. The study surveyed 430 households using structured interview schedule in high lead endemic residential areas of Makululu, Chowa and Kasanda. Makululu and Kasanda had two Focus Group Discussions each. The sample included women aged 13-49 years old. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS computer software package. The Chi-square (χ²) test was used to test for significant associations between independent and dependent variables (p-value < 0.05). The results revealed that knowledge level of precautionary measures among women of child-bearing age was low at 40.9% (p-value = 0.0055) despite staying in high lead poisoning exposure residential areas and having heard of lead poisoning. This may explain why the number of children being diagnosed with lead poisoning is still high despite the sensitization and people are still constructing houses even in highly contaminated areas. It is recommended that the government through Zambia Environmental Management Agency and other stakeholders should come up with new policies to combat lead poisoning exposure and also ways of creating awareness so that lead poisoning can be prevented in endemic areas. Ministry of Mines and Energy should come up with policies to discourage people from scavenging old mine site for scrap metal and mineral ores. Kabwe Municipal Council should stop giving out plots in high lead exposure areas. Ministry of Community and Development Mother and Child Health at district level should support community health activities in Lead poisoning prevention.