Civil society organizations (CSOs) across the continent are celebrating the third annual Africa Day for Amalgam-Free Dentistry. The celebration this year is a particularly special one since they are calling upon African governments to ban the use of mercury-containing dental amalgam in children’s milk teeth.
Since, children are a vulnerable population and it is certain that the amalgam’s mercury in their milk teeth has for its final destination the environment, Africa CSOs dedicated this day, to raise awareness of all relevant stakeholders in order to push for the total ban of this mercury product in milk teeth.
Mercury-free dentistry is growing in Africa. Recent studies in Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia show that, already, almost 30% of dentists are using alternatives to dental amalgam. Also, activities are undertaken in all corners of the continent – including Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Tunisia –to make the population aware of the pollution generated by dental mercury and its effects at all levels.
The CSOs are also reminding the African countries of their efforts during negotiations of the Minamata Convention. They worked very hard to make sure that reduction in dental amalgam use specifically be included in the treaty, forcefully arguing for the phase out of amalgam generally and for an end to amalgam in milk teeth specifically. In the African Regional consultation held in Pretoria on 9th May 2012, the African Region boldly adopted a plan for dental amalgam – the phase-down steps – that coupled with subsequent amendments was enshrined into the treaty.
The CSOs call on the African countries to work together so that Africa will be the first continent with mercury-free dentistry – considering that the current amount of dental amalgam used in Africa is much closer to zero than in any other continent. In 2010, the Sub-Saharan African Region used just six tons of dental mercury.