Stakeholders in the environment and health sectors in Nigeria have said that the ongoing development of a National Policy on the Phase Down of Dental Amalgam Use in Nigeria is apt and timely in line with the National Development Policy.
The government, through Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Environment in partnership with Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev Nigeria) and World Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry (WAMFD) engaged a consultant to develop the document in 2018 which was reviewed in 2019 by the National Steering Committee. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it could not be finalised till now.
At a day-long technical sub-committee meeting on development of National Policy for the Phase Down of Dental Amalgam Use in Nigeria held on Monday, October 25, 2021 in Abuja, participants agreed that the development of the document is apt and would help Nigeria to achieve its national development goals.
They stressed that the use of dental amalgam for dental restoration is toxic with detrimental effect to the users and the environment, adding that the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which Nigeria has signed and ratified, aimed to eliminate mercury in the environment.
In her welcome remark at the meeting, the Director, Dental Division, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. (Mrs.) Alonge, said the policy would promote oral health in the country. She added that the review of the document was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic which had slowed down activities.
Representing the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr. Ahmed Bah, stated that the Ministry is the Designated National Authority (NDA) of the Minamata Convention. He enumerated some steps on the Minamata Convention and what has been achieved working with SRADev Nigeria to include: ratifying the Minamata Convention in 2018; implementing the Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA), National Action Plan on Artisanal Small scale Gold Mining (ASGM), SIP Project on Capacity Building and Implementation of Minamata Convention. He added that a National policy on Phase Down of Dental Amalgam is best for the country.
Representing WAMFD, Dr. Tom Aneni, in his opening statement, said the policy is apt and timely as the world is moving towards the virtual Minamata Convention. According to him, in line with the National Development Policy, the policy of phase down on dental amalgam would help it achieving it.
“Also, NDA has been working to phasedown the use of dental amalgam, this policy will help compliment their effort.
“WAMFD is working closely with the secretariat of the Minamata Convention. The group has been working with Nigeria over the years.
“The use of dental amalgam for dental restoration is toxic with detrimental effect to the users and the environment. The Minamata Convention on Mercury is to eliminate the mercury in the environment. And Nigeria is a signatory to the convention. And the Federal Ministry of Environment is poised to work on the implementation of the convention. The Federal Ministry of Health manages the health component which is the phasedown on the use of dental amalgam.
“In 2018, the National Steering Committee was inaugurated to come up with a National Policy on Dental Amalgam. The draft policy was reviewed by 2019 but yet to be completed. However, this meeting has been put together to fashion a way forward to finalise the policy,” Aneni stated.
Facilitator of the meeting, retired distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Babajide Alo, commended WAMFD for her efforts in Nigeria towards a mercury free dentistry. He said the group has been working closely with the Minamata Convention secretariat since inception and had done a lot in Nigeria and other African countries.
Secretary of the National Dental Association (NDA), Dr. Adeyemi Temitope, said the association is very much interested in dental amalgam phase down being the lead user. According to him, NDA has put together timelines on phase-down and phase-out of dental amalgam and support the phasedown on use of dental amalgam in the country.
Convener of the meeting and Executive Director of SRADev Nigeria, Dr. Leslie Adogame, said the organisation would work with the consultants to ensure that the document is finalised soon. He commended WAMFD particularly the President, Charlie Brown, for the support towards the development of the policy for Nigeria.