African Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have called for a mercury-free dental care and mercury-free environment.
The African NGOs called on governments to work together and 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 on any other continent.
This was stated in a communiqué issued at the end of the West African Summit on Phasing Out Amalgam, held in Abuja, Nigeria and attended by Ghana, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania.
The Abuja Declaration was made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra through Mr Emmanuel Odjam-Akumatey, Executive Director of Ecological Restorations, an Accra-based NGO that participated in the summit.
The communiqué dubbed; “The Abuja Declaration,” explained that in 2010, the Sub-Saharan African Region used just six tonnes of dental mercury.
The African NGOs urged governments to adopt effective amalgam phase down strategies that had been proven in nations that had already phased out or significantly reduced dental mercury usage.
The Abuja Declaration also called on governments to raise the awareness about dental mercury to parents, consumers, dental workers, health professionals, and educators.
It called for the promotion of the benefits of non-mercury dental restorative materials, encourage government programmes and insurance policies that favoured non-mercury dental restorative materials.
African governments are also to develop a national plan setting goals for minimizing and eliminating amalgam use.
African countries must impress upon the exporting nations and funding organizations to cease the toxic trade of dental mercury into Africa, and cease sending to Africa interest groups whose agenda is to phase up amalgam on the continent, the communique said.
The Declaration tasked African countries to oppose Minamata Convention funds being used to profit the separator industry or other foreign manufacturing interests seeking to phase up amalgam use in Africa.
African countries must also reject the double standard mentality which infers that Africans must accept toxins that the rest of the world rejects.
All African governments, the African Union, must form a united front for mercury-free dentistry.
In training dental professionals, the Declaration called for the use of non-mercury dental restorative materials and techniques, discourage amalgam use in milk teeth (primary teeth), and protect dental workers from mercury vapours in the workplace.
The Declaration called for updating dental training schools to emphasize mercury-free dentistry, and moving hospitals to mercury-free health care services.
Civil Society Organizations were also urged to promote and advocate for, in their countries, mercury-free dentistry as a route of expanding oral health care, especially in children.