Towards promoting the phase-down measures under the Minamata Convention on Mercury signed and ratified by Nigeria in February 1, 2018, three Nigerians have been selected from the government, academia and civil society to attend the Global Workshop on Ending Dental Amalgam Use in Children holding in Bangkok, Thailand from May 14 to 15, 2018.
The bigwig Nigerian team comprises Mr Charles Ikeah, Director of Pollution Control and Environmental Health of the Federal Ministry of Environment; Prof. Godwin Arotiba, immediate past Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH); and Dr Leslie Adogame, Executive Director, SRADev Nigeria (focal point NGO).
The global workshop is organised by the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry in association with UN Environment, and its goal is to assist countries in ending amalgam use in children as well as to promote the phase down measures as an integrated approach to the implementation of the Minamata Convention’s requirement to phase down amalgam use before the 2nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP2) in November, 2018. According to the organisers, the report of the global meeting is envisaged as information for participants at COP2.
“In Bangkok this month, Nigerian delegates will historically join other five African countries (Zambia, Tunisia, Tanzania, Mauritius and Côte d’Ivoire) to take the giant step to commit to end amalgam for children across Africa and throughout the world,” said Dr Adogame.
Jacob Duer, Chief of Chemicals and Health Branch of UN Environment, states that delegates to the meeting have been “carefully selected to ensure a diversity of experiences and perspectives”. Sharing experiences and strategies to phase out amalgam for children and phase down amalgam use generally will provide an important basis for decision-making for each country at COP2 and beyond, he adds.
Expected workshop participants are experts drawn from countries, including government representatives, civil society, dentists/dental academicians, dental manufacturers, and intergovernmental organisations like UN Environment and World Health Organisation (WHO), all of whom will contribute to presentations and discussions on topics such as:
- amalgam’s environmental impact; mercury-free dental materials available for children;
- case studies from countries and other entities that have ended amalgam use in children; and
- strategies that can be tailored to each country’s needs (such as laws and regulations, dental school curricula updates, modifying insurance and government programmes, and encouraging health promotion programmes that can increase longevity of teeth by preventing dental caries and utilising minimally-invasive mercury-free fillings).
Dominique Bally of the African Centre for Environmental Health based in Côte d’Ivoire, said, “To donate, sell, or otherwise bring amalgam to Africa is not helping the people of our region – it is dumping a neurotoxin into our environment and our bodies. Africans are tired to see their continent being seen as the world dumping site.”
Charlie Brown, Attorney and President of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, an organisation which is spearheading the campaign, made a clarion call on African, Asian and other global delegates attending the meeting, saying: “Please do as the European Union has done: phase out amalgam for children now, for one simple reason: The children of your nation are equally important as the children of Europe.”