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Civil Society Organizations celebrate “Africa Day for Mercury-Free Dentistry”

Today, more than 40 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including (your NGO) of (your nation), are celebrating the 4th “Africa Day for Mercury-free Dentistry”. The celebration this year is very special one since we are calling upon African governments to dental amalgam a history.

In fact, after signing the “Abuja Declaration” in 2014, calling for Africa to be the first continent on the planet to end the use of mercury in dental care, Africa CSOs developed a plan in Abidjan in 2015 to implement the Abuja Declaration. The “Abidjan Plan” presented key objectives and strategies to achieve a real and phase out of dental amalgam on the continent. The CSOs also set every October 13th to be the day to raise awareness on a specific issue towards phase out of dental amalgam in dentistry.

Mercury is a neurotoxin, can damage children’s developing brains and nervous systems even before they are born.”[1]   It is due to this fact that the CSOs dedicated this day, to call for governments to start making amalgam a history by imposing a total ban of dental amalgam in milk teeth and in pregnant and nursing women.

Dental amalgam fillings are 50% mercury, a major neurotoxin. Its continuous use is no more justified because alternatives are now affordable, effective, and available in Africa.  The restriction of its use is demanded worldwide in the new Minamata Convention on Mercury, adopted by more than 140 governments (including [your country] in Kumamoto Japan. This Convention which entered into force the 16th August this year, held its first conference of Parties from 24 to 29 September in Geneva, Switzerland. The theme of this COP1 was to “make mercury history” showing the international will to deal with mercury including dental amalgam.

To end use of dental amalgam in children/milk teeth is possible since Mercury-free dental restorative materials are far less expensive than dental amalgam when environmental and societal costs are factored in.[2] The costs of using mercury-free options (including retreatment) is about half the cost of amalgam without retreatment, making this mercury-free technique significantly more affordable in low-income communities, particularly in areas without electricity or dental clinics.[3]

This was said by _______________ of ___________(NGO): “We are calling on the government of ------------------(name of the country) and other governments in Africa, to make amalgam history by ending its use in African children teeth, pregnant and nursing women too. In the whole world, amalgam use is lowest in Africa, so we are nearer to the finish line than any continent.”

He / She continued saying that African nation of Mauritius has a policy of no amalgam for children[4]. The European Union, with 28 member nations, bans amalgam as of 1 July 2018 for children, and for pregnant and nursing women[5]. The Scandinavian nations go much further, effectively having ended amalgam use[6].

This is why, Dominique Bally of Cote d’Ivoire, the World Alliance’s vice president for Africa, reports that “The African region is ready to end amalgam use in children, but developed countries continue to dump amalgam into our region.  Sending amalgam for use in African children (and others vulnerable population) is not charity nor humanitarian assistance – it’s an environmental health disaster.”

Also, activities are undertaken in all corners of the continent to make population aware on the effects of mercury to health and the environment. It is the case in Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Tunisia.

It should be possible to phase out dental mercury in the continent amalgam since it uses the lowest amount, about 10% of annual global mercury consumption[7] and contributes to 260-340 metric tons of mercury pollution around the world each year.[8] 

The CSOs are also reminding the African countries on 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 reference is also made to the Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment in Africa (August 2008)[9].

World Health Organization report Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration, says that “recent data suggest that RBCs [resin-based composites] perform equally well” as amalgam[10] – and offer additional oral health benefits because “Adhesive resin materials allow for less tooth destruction and, as a result, a longer survival of the tooth itself. Thus, composites and even others alternatives like Glass Ionomer Cement (GIC) could be used to fill children’s teeth.

The CSOs call the African countries to work together so that, it will make Africa 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 (6) tons of dental mercury.[11]


[2] Lars D. Hylander & Michael E. Goodsite, Environmental Costs of Mercury Pollution, Science of the Total Environment 368 (2006) 352-370; Concorde East West, The Real Cost of Dental Mercury (March 2012), pp.3-4

[3] Pan American Health Organization, Oral Health of Low Income Children: Procedures for Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (PRAT) (2006), http://new.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments/2009/OH_top_PT_low06.pdf, p.xii. (“The costs of employing the PRAT approach for dental caries treatment, including retreatment, are roughly half the cost of amalgam without retreatment. PRAT as a best practice model provides a framework to implement oral health services on a large scale, and it can reduce the inequities for access to care services.”); S. Mickenautsch, I. Munshi, & E.S. Grossman, Comparative cost of ART and conventional treatment within a dental school clinic, Journal of Minimum Intervention in Dentistry (2009), http://www.miseeq.com/e-2-2-8.pdf (“ART is also a cost-effective means of oral health care within a modern dental clinic.  The ART approach can be undertaken at approximately 50% of the capital costs of conventional restorative dentistry.”)

[4] Inventory of Mercury Releases in Mauritania (2014), p. 19

[5] European Parliament legislative resolution (14 March 2017)

[6] World Health Organization, Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration (2011), p. 21

[7] UNEP/AMAP, Technical Background Report to the Global Atmospheric Mercury Assessment (2008), p.20

[8] Data from UNEP.

[9] http://www.afro.who.int/fr/downloads/doc_download/2224-declaration-de-libreville-sur-la-sante-et-lenvironnement-en-afriquelibreville-le-29-aout-2008.html

[10] World Health Organization, Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration (2011),http://www.who.int/oral_health/publications/dental_material_2011.pdf, p.11

[11] AMAP/UNEP Technical Report for the Global Mercury Assessment” (2013), http://www.amap.no/documents/doc/technical-background-report-for-the-global-mercury-assessment-2013/848, at p. 103

[1]United States Environmental Protection Administration,http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/a640db2ebad201cd852577ab00634848!OpenDocument   (2010).

[1] Lars D. Hylander & Michael E. Goodsite, Environmental Costs of Mercury Pollution, Science of the Total Environment 368 (2006) 352-370; Concorde East West, The Real Cost of Dental Mercury (March 2012), pp.3-4

[1] Pan American Health Organization, Oral Health of Low Income Children: Procedures for Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (PRAT) (2006), http://new.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments/2009/OH_top_PT_low06.pdf, p.xii. (“The costs of employing the PRAT approach for dental caries treatment, including retreatment, are roughly half the cost of amalgam without retreatment. PRAT as a best practice model provides a framework to implement oral health services on a large scale, and it can reduce the inequities for access to care services.”); S. Mickenautsch, I. Munshi, & E.S. Grossman, Comparative cost of ART and conventional treatment within a dental school clinic, Journal of Minimum Intervention in Dentistry (2009), http://www.miseeq.com/e-2-2-8.pdf (“ART is also a cost-effective means of oral health care within a modern dental clinic.  The ART approach can be undertaken at approximately 50% of the capital costs of conventional restorative dentistry.”)

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[1] Inventory of Mercury Releases in Mauritania (2014), p. 19

[1] European Parliament legislative resolution (14 March 2017)

[1] World Health Organization, Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration (2011), p. 21

[1] UNEP/AMAP, Technical Background Report to the Global Atmospheric Mercury Assessment (2008), p.20

[1] Data from UNEP.

[1] http://www.afro.who.int/fr/downloads/doc_download/2224-declaration-de-libreville-sur-la-sante-et-lenvironnement-en-afriquelibreville-le-29-aout-2008.html

[1] World Health Organization, Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration (2011),http://www.who.int/oral_health/publications/dental_material_2011.pdf, p.11

[1] AMAP/UNEP Technical Report for the Global Mercury Assessment” (2013), http://www.amap.no/documents/doc/technical-background-report-for-the-global-mercury-assessment-2013/848, at p. 103