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I am of the opinion that Health promotion on the dangers of mercury poisoning should be the focus here.This goes beyond just advocacy.A top bottom approach intervention should be designed to address the ban starting from International treaties where the ban is ratified and signed by member nations.Advocacy to National, state and local governments to get them to buy into the intervention and the need to do a NEEDS Assessment and formulate policies aimed at addressing these issues.
Are there published Health Impact assessments on mercury poisoning done in these regions /countries?
Issues around child labor, poverty, girl child education, drought, food security, environmental pollution and illegal mining need to be resolved alongside.A major determinant of this practice is gross poverty and a need earn a living by these poor people who may not appreciate the long term implication of their actions.The community leaders should also be part of any interventions as they are the community gate keepers and their opinions are often respected as they are held in high regard by their people.The economics of this practice need to be addressed, who fuels the demand for these illegally mined gold? Can gold illegally refined be backlisted and banned by international gold merchants so that if demand for this gold is eliminated, supply will diminish and the practice will stop.Obviously most of the mining is illegal so the cost benefit analysis of such illegal practices may not accrue to the host governments but the negative externalities of such transactions remain with them.Economic evaluations on the impact of such practices should be done and results be published and used as an advocacy tool at such international forums.Most of the countries do not care about the health impact of this practice on their populations and even if they cared, are not in a position to do anything due to being resource poor.
My opinion is, developed countries and donors should put their money where their mouth is and fund NGO's to pursue interventions to address this public health hazard.
Dr.Akinlolu Fasanmi
Abuja, Nigeria