Use of soaps containing mercury in Africa – how to fight it
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Use of soaps containing mercury in Africa – how to fight it

Numerous women in sub-Saharan Africa use soaps containing mercury to bleach their skin. The mercury goes through their skin and reduces the melanin of the pigmentation. The mercury also causes damage to the body e.g. the nervous system. Mercury is particularly dangerous for the nervous system including the brain of the foetus. One of the most severe consequences is that during pregnancy the foetus will concentrate the mercury from their mothers. Children born by mothers using skin bleaching soaps have therefore a high risk of being mentally and physically disabled. The use of mercury for skin bleaching thus not only cause severe health problems for sub-Saharan Africa, but also adds to the ever increasing amount of mercury in the drainage systems and the oceans. The present project is an information campaign aimed at female and male users of bleaching soaps. The project used forum theatre on market places and information on secondary schools in Uganda. The project has proved very successful in informing black people of Uganda against the health and environmental hazards caused by using soaps containing mercury.

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English
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Author(s):
Nordic Council of Ministers

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The Forum Theatre brought the information on the dangers of using soaps with mercury to about 30 towns and at each performance an average of 200 people watched. The awareness campaign at schools brought the messages to many hundred school children. Uganda has a population of more than 28 million. There is thus a long way to cover the whole population.