The Minamata Convention on Mercury is the largest global environmental treaty which calls for stopping harmful effects of mercury by reducing its use. UNEP Global assessment on mercury reports assesses mercury as toxic to humans, wildlife and environment. The healthcare sector is a key source of mercury’s global demand and emissions. In Bangladesh it is no different in this respect.
Asian Center for Environmental Health in collaboration with ESDO and the World Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry have been working hard from 2010-11 with an aim to phasing out mercury dental amalgam due to its harmful impacts on human and the environment.. This Asian Workshop on ‘Successful Strategies to Phase down Amalgam Use towards Mercury free Dentistry’is another brick in that effort. The wokrshop was organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) and the World Alliance for Mercury free Dentistry in collaboration with Environmnet and social development Organization (ESDO) and Asian Center for Environmental Health from 31 May-1 June, 2016 in Bangkok. This program has taken a strategic approach to prepare a national and sub-regional level strategic plan to phase down amalgam from the participating countries. The overall goal of the workshop was to assist Asian countries in developing policies to phase down the use of dental amalgam. The Specific objectives were to:
- Enhance awareness of both health and environment sectors in governments and civil society on the measures to phase down dental amalgam as stipulated in Part II Annex A of the Minamata Convention on Mercury
- Development of Alternatives friendly curriculum and study material that facilitate the subsequent phase out of amalgam related technology and practices
- Promotion of the benefits and access of non-mercury dental restorative filling materials.
- To share information about initiatives, activities and best practices of 9 Asian countries on dental amalgam phase down
- To develop national action plans to phase down the use of dental amalgam.
The combined participation of government representatives and civil society in the Asian workshop was a platform for both the sectors to share their work progress towards establishing mercury free dentistry in their countries. The workshop was also a great opportunity to prepare the strategic planning for phasing down amalgam both at national and sub-regional level. So many scopes came out through brainstorming which can be followed for the early ratification of the convention. Some common recommendations came out form the participants some of which are:
- Immediate ratification of “Minamata Convention”
- Phase out mercury amalgam by 2018 based on country situation
- Promotion and training on alternative restorative filling materials
- Regulatory and institutional framework programs on the uses, impacts of dental mercury amalgam
- Construction of mercury treatment plants in the industries that deal with mercury.
- Developing policy on dental health insurance
- Development of Alternatives friendly curriculum and study material that facilitate the subsequent phase out of amalgam related technology and practices.