The Minamata Convention lists “setting national objectives aiming at minimizing its use” as a measure to phase down amalgam use. These objectives should be developed in coordination with all interested stakeholders – including dental patients, environmental organizations, and practicing dentists.
Why is it effective?
Setting national objectives for minimizing amalgam use can phase down amalgam use. After the objectives are made clear, the stakeholders can strive toward it. And if stakeholders are involved in developing these objectives, they will be more dedicated to working toward them.
Where has it been effective?
Establishing national objectives for minimizing amalgam use is an important step many nations have taken to phase down or phase out amalgam use. For example:
- Sweden: The government first announced its goal to phase out amalgam use. Then as Sweden progressed toward this goal, the objectives and strategies used to achieve it were refined with input from stakeholders – including a large number of companies, industrial and trade associations, research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and public authorities. They were reached via questionnaires, individual contacts, meetings, study visits, and the opportunity to comment on a draft report of the findings. Sweden phased out amalgam use in children and young people in 2009 and phased out amalgam use generally by 2012.
How can it be implemented?
Nations can set objectives for minimizing amalgam use by following these key steps:
- Engage stakeholders: To obtain input from a variety of perspectives, consult stakeholders including dentists who do not use amalgam, dentists who do still use amalgam, dental patient groups, and environmental organizations, among others. This consultation can take many forms, such as meetings, workshops, public hearings, interviews, questionnaires, or written comments.
- Establish baseline amalgam usage data: To learn how much amalgam is currently used, nations can (1) determine the average amount of amalgam used per year by one dentist and then multiple that amount times the number of dentists in the nation or (2) ask amalgam manufacturers or distributors to report how much amalgam they sell in the nation annually.
- Set goals: To ensure steady progress, nations can set both long-term goals and short-term goals. For example, the long-term goal could be to phase out amalgam use completely, but a short-term goal might be to reduce amalgam use by 25% each year or end its use in children and pregnant women by a date certain.
- Develop a plan: To achieve the above goals, nations can develop plans of action that define the amalgam phase-down strategies best suited to their needs, abilities, and domestic circumstances.
- Announce goals and plan: To increase cooperation and support from stakeholders, nations can publicly announce (via press releases and other strategies) their commitment to minimizing amalgam use.
- Track progress: To determine amalgam use reductions over time, it is important to continue tracking the amount of amalgam used at regular intervals.