The Children’s Environmental Health Foundation (CEHF) has hailed Civil society organizations in Zambia and Africa at large for their continued support and effort in ending the use of dental amalgam in dentistry and a call to making Africa a mercury-free dentistry continent.
In a statement availed to the Lusaka Star, CEHF Chairperson Michael Musenga stated that organizations accredited to the Minamata Convention on Mercury will and should continue to implement a strategic focus on ending the toxic dental filling material which contains 50 percent of mercury with alternative tooth filling materials such as ionomer.
“Sadly, the world must know that dental amalgam is harmful to practice in dentistry, especially in developing countries in Africa. This is because dental amalgam releases low levels of mercury in the form of a vapour that can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs,” he explained.
The CEHF Chairperson said that exposure to high levels of mercury vapour could result in advert effects on the brain and kidneys.
Musenga stated that this global health concern primarily affects children and expectant mothers who access both private and public dental healthcare services.
Meanwhile, Musenga announced that this week, Zambia, other African countries, and CSOs signatories to the Minamata Convention will this week be commemorating the “Africa Week for Mercury-Free Dentistry” whose focus is to spearhead the implementation of the Children’s Amendment to the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
“This program is directed by the Africa Region, countries and CSOs which are part of the Minamata Convention. The parties unanimously amended the mercury treaty to set a worldwide floor which aims to end the use of amalgam in children and for pregnant as well as breastfeeding women,” he explained.
Musenga narrated that to achieve universal coverage for health, countries in Africa needed to end amalgam use in all dentistry both private and public especially in children.
“Specialized and student dentists can use restorative materials such as glass ionomer white fillings, composite white fillings, porcelain white fillings and even gold fillings which are far healthier and tooth-friendly,” he said.
The environmental specialist explained that in Zambia, the use of dental amalgam in children was banned in all public dentistry approximately 22 years ago and most dental practitioners prefer alternative tooth fillings.
“The government through the Dental Association in Zambia also changed the syllabus which does not involve the use of dental amalgam in dentistry in the country,” he said.
He further called on children-based organizations to join this week’s celebration and urged parents and children knowledgeable about dental fillings to insist on not using dental fillings for their children.
Each year, the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry and the African Center for Environmental Health sponsor a day—now expanded to a week—to celebrate the transition for Africa to mercury-free dentistry which