Towards a future free from lead exposure: A ministerial dialogue on preventing maternal and child exposure to toxic lead

Boy working on lead acid batteries without protection

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World Health Assembly Lead Event
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77th Session of the World Health Assembly Breakfast Side Event 

Hybrid Event: In-Person and Virtual Attendance Options Available

Wednesday, 29 May 2024, 7:30-9:00 a.m. CEST, Fairmont Grand Hotel, Geneva, Ballroom A

On behalf of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), we are pleased to invite you to a high-level side event at the upcoming seventy-seventh World Health Assembly: A ministerial dialogue on preventing maternal and child exposure to toxic lead.

As countries accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal targets on maternal, newborn, and child health, the detrimental impacts of lead impede progress. Globally, approximately 1 in 3 children – or 800 million – have elevated blood lead levels. Childhood lead poisoning can lead to lower IQ, attention deficits, poor academic performance and affect their life-long health. Elevated levels of lead in pregnancy can increase complications, including reduced fetal growth, low birth weight, preterm birth, and stillbirth. Lead poisoning is also a significant causal risk factor for cardiovascular disease. There is no safe level of lead exposure. Prevention is the only solution, and the health sector has a key role to play in galvanizing and contributing to the multisectoral action needed to mitigate lead exposure and its impacts.

We hope you will join us for a panel conversation with ministers of health, technical experts, advocates, and policy makers to elevate awareness and explore the tools available to curb lead exposure and its detrimental health impacts. To accommodate accessibility requirements, a full video recording of the event with captions will be made available at this site following the event.


  • Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director for the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing for WHO
  • Ted Chaiban, Deputy Executive Director of Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations for UNICEF
  • Dr. Atul Gawande, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID
  • Dr. Howard Hu, Flora L. Thornton Chair and Professor, Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (Virtual)
  • Larah Ibanez, Pure Earth's Country Director for the Philippines (Virtual)
  • Dr. Abdulaziz Mohammed, Head of Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC
  • Professor Sabrina Flora, Directorate General of Health Services, Bangladesh
  • Dr. Mohammed Pate, Minister of Health and Social Welfare for Nigeria
  • Dr. Nguyen Thi Lien Huong, Vice Minister of Health of Viet Nam

Breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m., and the event will start promptly at 7:45 a.m. CEST. Transportation will be provided for participants to proceed to the Palais following the event.

UNICEF and USAID logos


Caption for cover image: Al Amin, 10, works at a garage where he repairs batteries.


Ballroom A, Fairmont Grand Hotel, Geneva