Medical personnel at the Central Regional hospital have observed that there is an obvious link between illegal mining and kidney failure. This disclosure was made by the hospital authorities after they recorded increased cases of the disease in mining communities such as Tarkwa and the rest.
According to the Chief Executive of the Central Regional Hospital, Dr. Daniel Asare, most of the patients who have been rushed to the hospital for kidney dialysis in recent times happen to be illegal miners.
Dr. Asare made this known during a visit of the Health Minister to the hospital on Monday, August 14. He said 65 persons are currently on dialysis, and that’s a pathetic number.
Drawing attention to the prodigious cost of kidney dialysis, Dr. Daniel Asare pointed out that if in the absence of kidney transplant one is placed on dialysis for the rest of his life, he would have to sell off everything he has in order to foot the bills which currently stands at ¢190 per week.
Link Between Illegal Mining and Kidney Failure
Kidney failure is a medical condition where one or both kidneys have become weakened in that it/they can no longer function properly. It is a health situation where the kidneys fail to adequately filter metabolic wastes from the blood.
Some of the major symptoms of kidney failure include swelling due to fluid retention in the body, vomiting and diarrhoea, unusual urination (much or less), blood in urine, etc. In severe cases where the substance penetrates the blood stream in large amounts, the patient may die from excessive loss of blood and fluid through diarrhoea.
The link between illegal mining and kidney failure is brought about by the use of mercury in gold mining. The chemical which is mostly used by small scale miners for gold attraction, is known to cause permanent kidney damage if not properly handled.
According to a large U.S. Centers for Disease Control epidemiological study (NHANES III), mercury has been found to be nephrotoxic (toxic to kidneys). Mercury exposure has been shown to adversely affect kidney function in occupational and animal studies, and also in those with more than average number of amalgam fillings.
Illegal mining and kidney failure linked
Findings of the above study clearly substantiates the claims of Central Region Hospital authorities, considering the level of exposure the artisanal miners face while working on gold-mercury mixtures on a daily basis.
Minerals Commission Slack Regulation
The Minerals Commission has been blamed for their failure to strictly regulate the procurement, possession and use of Mercury in the country.
A research conducted by Ghanabusinessnews revealed that this mineral which is supposed to be acquired on licence, was found on sale in not less than 10 shops in Tarkwa. This slack in regulation explains why unlicensed miners easily have access to the somewhat harmful substance.
The Human Rights Watch have also confirmed the unregulated use of Mercury in mining communities across Ghana in a recent report. According to the report, the galamseyers, including children who are obviously not well acquainted with the associated health risks of uncontrolled use of mercury, were observed freely handling the substance in the course of their business.
A section of the report reads:
“I watched miners mix liquid mercury in pans filled with ore in order to attract the gold particles. They then held this gold-mercury amalgam over an open fire to burn off the mercury and retrieve the raw gold. Even children were working with mercury. One of them, 12-year-old “Kwame,” told me: “I burn it on my own, where I get fire, at my mother’s house or any place.” Kwame carried a small bottle of mercury with him at all times. He and his fellow miners had never been told about its dangers.”
This development has added to the very many dangers of illegal mining on both the operators and the environment at large. This exposé therefore comes as an enlightenment to all those who are insisting on continuing with galamsey.
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