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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Minamata Convention: African NGOs assemble in regional forums to implement Children’s Amendment

Environmental and consumer non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 25 nations gathered at regional workshops in Lomé, Lusaka, and Cairo to develop a plan to enforce the Children’s Amendment to the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Children’s Amendment
Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Collins Nzovu, commended efforts to phase out the usage of amalgam mercury in Zambia during the official opening of the SADC and EAC Workshop in Lusaka, Zambia, on April 28, 2023

This is even as momentum gathers for this continental initiative to stop all placement of mercury dental fillings in African children and African pregnant and breastfeeding women by the legal deadline in the treaty of September 28, 2023.

The three workshops were financed by benefactor Dr. Myron Wentz, who for seven years had fully funded the Africa campaign for mercury-free dentistry administered by the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry’s secretariat in Washington.

Hosted by les Amis de la Terre in Lomé, NGOs from 12 West African and Central African nations assembled in Lomé from April 25 to 26. Hosted by the Children’s Environmental Health Foundation, NGOs from seven Southern African and East African nations gathered in Lusaka from April 28 to 29.  Then hosted by the Arab Network for Environmental and Development, a pan-Arab workshop of six NGOs from North Africa and Southwest Asia met from May 1 to 2.

‘The champions for this continental initiative to enforce the Children’s Amendment, the ones who put together the agendas and brought us together, are Amegadzé Kokou Elorm in Togo, Michael Musenga in Zambia, and Ghada Ahmadein in Egypt,” said Charlie Brown, President of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry and the only person to participate in all three workshops. “The World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry salutes Kokou, Michael, and Ghada – three great NGO leaders!”

Brown added: “The Children’s Amendment to the Minamata Convention calls for the end of amalgam use for children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.  All Parties must either ban amalgam or recommend the end of amalgam for these vulnerable populations.  The Children’s Amendment enters into legal force in just four months – on September 28, 2023.

“Our NGO team across Africa assembled in three regional workshops to create the strategy for victory: the end of amalgam use in African children and in African pregnant and breastfeeding women.”

Amegadzé Kokou Elorm said: “The Lomé workshop on April 25 and 26, 2023 is of major importance, especially as the elimination of amalgam fillings for the dental treatment of baby teeth, patients under 15 years of age and pregnant and breastfeeding women is a matter of health priority; foetuses, newborns and children being among the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of mercury.

“The participating organisations reaffirmed their absolute determination to continue their fight for the Children’s Amendment for the well-being of the people of the African continent.”

Each workshop passed a resolution of appreciation to Dr. Wentz for funding this synergistic gathering of African and Arab NGOs.

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