Mercury: Lagos begins withdrawal of amalgam use for children in general hospitals


Beginning from today July 16, 2018 the Lagos State government will commence immediate withdrawal of dental amalgam use for children across all the general hospitals in the state, Chief Dental Officer of the state has said.
The decision to stop the use of dental amalgam for children in the state was announced after a stakeholders workshop held at the Gbagada General Hospital on Friday July 13 attended by Lagos State officials, Chief Dental officer of the state, World Alliance for Mercury Free-Dentistry, Sustainable Research and Action for Development, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) dental officials, Lagos University Hospital (LUTH) officials, Nigeria Dental Association (NDA) Lagos chapter, media and dentists.
Studies have shown that dental amalgam, which is commonly used in tooth filling across the world consist of about 50 per cent mercury, a toxic metal that is dangerous to human health and the environment. However, there have been a global campaign to phase down it use in dental filling, in mercury products, artisanal and small scale gold mining and other sources via where its emission and releases get to the environment.
Chief Dental Officer of the state, who was represented by Dr. Lara Agbaje at the Friday stakeholders meeting, announced that the state government is ready and will begin immediate withdrawal of its use for children in all the general hospitals particularly where children are being treated.
She stressed that it is high time to take off amalgam in treatment of children because of the high mercury content while work on phase down of its in pregnant women will contain towards the 2020 target.
In his welcome remarks at the inaugural stakeholders’ meeting, Executive Director of SRADev, Dr. Leslie Adogame, said his organisation is the focal point under World Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry to see that the global initiative move in the country accordingly and particularly in Lagos.
According to him, Lagos and Edo States have been chosen as pilot states for the campaign to phase down amalgam in dentistry in the country and as the engine of Nigeria, the campaign has to start from the state.
He told the participants that Nigeria in 2013 signed the Minamata Convention and ratified it in February 2018 becoming the 88th Party to the Convention. He explained that phase down of dental amalgam campaign is under the Minamata Convention, with a target to phase down mercury by 2020.
“We cannot start a policy coming from the federal government without Lagos”, he said. Adding that the process with the state started in 2014 and that they are back to continue with it.
Adogame said the group want to ensure that there is a concerted effort on how Lagos wants stop amalgam use for children in the state.
In his contribution Dr. A.O Loto, said there is need to form a multi-stakeholders committee that will comprise of members from all the critical sectors of the nation including law enforcement agencies, Customs, Ministry of Justice, Environment, and Agriculture among others for the campaign.
Former Dean of Dental department, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Godwin Arotiba, said dental practitioners have to embrace the change and shift to the alternatives. He highlighted some approaches to phase down amalgam in the country.
President, World Alliance for Mercury Free-Dentistry, Mr. Charlie Brown, said Lagos is the flagship and should serve as example to other states that dental amalgam can be phase down. He said the objective of the campaign is possible to be achieved.
He said it is possible to reach other hospitals in the state and phase down dental amalgam.
Brown cited the example of the European Union and Pakistan that have started phasing down amalgam use for children.
After a long deliberation, participants agreed among things, the need for SRADev Nigeria and NDA to partner in creating more awareness and training of dentists on the use of alternatives to amalgam; the need to work towards phase down of amalgam use for lactating mothers and children by 2020; the need to form a committee consisting of all relevant parties to the campaign and begin to sensitise the populace through jingles and through other means of communication.