LUSAKA, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Over 5,000 miners in Zambia have been screened for different occupational lung diseases, a senior government official said on Thursday.
Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Richard Musukwa said the miners were screened between 2017 and 2018, with results showing increased lung disease burden.
In remarks delivered at the first Pan-African Occupational Health and Safety Conference in South Africa held under the theme "Occupational Safety and Health in Africa: Challenges and Actions", the Zambian minister said the screening was being conducted at a newly established state-of-the-art Regional Center of Excellence.
The facility, he said, was also accessible to all member states of the Southern African Development Community member countries and that it has state-of-the-art reading machines and highly trained occupational medical practitioners, according to a release.
According to him, Zambia has strengthened mine health regulations by revising some laws that were prohibitive and increased the risk of infections in the mining industry.
He urged member countries of the Occupational Safety and Health Organization, employers and workers to join hands in fighting injustices caused by poor occupational health and safety accidents.
The Zambian minister said small-scale mining in Africa was complex and a critical sector that needed governments' intervention to address many safety and health challenges it was facing.
According to him, mining-related environmental liabilities have the potential to erode economic benefits that the mining industry has achieved in many African countries, adding that environmental liabilities resulting from the use of mercury in mineral processing may negatively affect communities and cause health problems.