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A Toxics-Free Future


Côte d’Ivoire Moves to Ratify Minamata Convention, Ban Lead in Paints

Strong indication that Côte d’Ivoire will soon join the committee of nations that had ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the global Convention that seeks to prevent human and physical environment from mercury pollution has emerged as the country is already finalising its papers towards submission to the Convention secretariat.

Towards this, a day-long sensitisation workshop for capacity building and knowledge exchange around the prevention of intoxication related to dental mercury and other products containing mercury that drew participants’ from public service, BRS Focal points, dentists from teaching institutions, military establishment, non-governmental organisations, among others was held on Monday June 18, 2018 in Abidjan.

The workshop, initiated by the African Center for Environmental Health (CASE) in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene and the Ministry of Environment, aimed to review the findings of previous consultations with stakeholders in the sector has adopted advocacy instruments to support the Ivorian government in the ratification of the Minamata Convention.

At the opening session of the workshop, President of the African Center for Environmental Health (CASE), Mr. Kpokro Dominique said, “In order not to be on the sidelines on the initiatives implemented on the continent, we must accelerate the process of ratification of the Minamata Convention in order to benefit from the support available to the Global Environment Facility.”

To address the issue related to mercury poisoning, inventories conducted between 2014 and 2016, have shown that Côte d’Ivoire used nearly 13 tons of mercury in the gold mining sector. In addition, some products contain mercury, including mercury waste from thermometers, measuring devices, barometers, tensiometers.

According to Kpokro, “in some dental practices, concentrations of more than 5000 nanograms per cubic meter of air were found, which is 5 times more mercury than the norm allowed. In certain cosmetic and personal hygiene products, concentrations of 0.8 and 0.9 parts per million have been found in lightening creams, which are prohibited by Ivorian law. “Mercury can lead to lung disease, respiratory disease or a decline in fertility and neurodegenerative diseases such as alzaïmer, etc., he said.

Similarly, Director of Public Health and Health-Environment, Dr. Gangne Eugenie said pending the ratification of the Minamata Convention, Côte d’Ivoire relies on the contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to organize the use of mercury and its derivatives. “For some time, health professionals who use mercury have been informed of the harmful health aspects of mercury. So there is an organization that is set up to sensitize these actors,“ she said.

As for Dr. Aboua Gustave, Director General of the Environment and Sustainable Development, he said that Côte d’Ivoire will ratify the Minamata Convention by the end of 2018. “The frank collaboration between ministries in the issue and the (ngos) contributes to a plea for the government to permanently remove mercury from dental care but the most important is also to present the alternatives. He stressed before thanking the high contribution of civil society, including the African center for environmental health in the fight against the harmful effects of mercury on health and the environment.

Exchanges and sharing of knowledge allowed the 38 participants to take full measure of the challenges of ratifying the Minamata Convention. Specialists in the dentistry sector made their contributions to advance the debate. “The states that signed the Minimata Convention have actually found that there are real risks associated with the use of mercury. Unlike some countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, which do not have sufficient scientific means or even data or legal framework to control these risks must opt for prevention. And prevention is to sign ” Minamata ”, “Pleaded Professor Koffi Yolande, Dean of the training and research unit of Odonto-stomatology at the University of Felix Houphouet Boigny of Abidjan.

At the end of the workshop, a draft decree on the protection of the population against heavy metal poisoning was validated by the participants. “The draft decree that has been validated today allows, if it is adopted tomorrow, to ban mercury, dental amalgam in children under 15 years lactating women. This is a significant step forward for Côte d’Ivoire on the sidelines of the ratification of the Minamata Convention,“ said Dominique Bally.

Other key outcomes of the workshop were:
– A general consensus on the necessity to ban amalgam in children and all women.
– A consensus to match the Minamata provisions regarding to mercury added products to be banned by 2020, especially those involved in health sector,
– A final agreement on the ban of lead paint.

For that purpose, we all worked to finalize and validate the draft decree eliminating amalgam use in children and women, mercury added products listed in Annex A part 1 of Minamata Convention and lead in paint.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury became a legally binding instrument in August 2017 after 55 Parties out of the 128 countries that signed the Convention adopted in Japan in 2013 ratified it. At Sunday July 1, 2018, 94 countries had ratified the Convention.

The First Conference of Parties to the Convention (COP 1) was held in Geneva, Switzerland in September 2017.