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NDA backs dental amalgam phase down, seeks partners on implementation
Members of the Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) have put their weight behind dental amalgam phase down in Nigeria. Besides, they have called on all stakeholders to partner with them towards its implementation in dentistry practice in Nigeria in line with the objective of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
President of the association, Dr. Eshikena Evelyn stated this in Abuja on Thursday during the 52nd Annual General Meeting /Scientific Conference themed “The Minamata Convention on Mercury-Phasing Down of mercury Dental Amalgam in Nigeria” held from 24th-26th of July in Abuja.
According to her, the federal Ministry of Environment and Health need to develop the country’s national action plan around the convention to set realistic targets around dental amalgam phase down, adding that the Ministry of Science and Technology need to direct the research institutes/parastatals to collaborate with NDA, Faculties of Dentistry and Universities to conduct research into mercury free dental restorative materials with a view to explore the possibility of local manufacture.
Besides, the NDA President also request that the necessary legislation be put in place to restrict the importation of dental amalgam into the country, proscribe the use of dental amalgam in the vulnerable group by June 2020, and obtain duty free concession/reduction on mercury free restorative materials.
Dr. Eshikena, in her welcome speech at the conference said, “NDA calls on all stakeholders here present and those we have invited to partner with us. Our dental schools need equipment and an upgrade of the simulation laboratories of the 13 Dental Schools in Nigeria with ICT, Interactive smart boards and e-learning facilities”.
She added that through the Scientific Conference, the NDA would promote update of dental schools curricula, retrain general dental practitioners in Minimum Intervention Dentistry and increase public awareness of the harmful effects of mercury in dental amalgam.
Nigeria is a signatory and 88th Party to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The Convention which came into force on 16 August 2017 aimed at protecting human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury compounds. The Convention focused on the entire life cycle of mercury, including controls and reduction across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted.
Approximately 50% of dental amalgam is elemental mercury by weight. Mercury can damage the child’s brain even before they are born. The World Health Organisation considers it one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern.
Already, the Federal Ministry of Health has commissioned a consultant to develop a National policy on phase down of dental amalgam in Nigeria, a document that will guide towards the implementation of the Convention.
In his good will message, Vice- President Africa of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry (WAFMD) Mr. Dominique Bally, congratulated Nigeria for the work done to implement the Convention and the far-sighted decision to end amalgam use for children under 15 and for pregnant and breastfeeding women by January 1, 2020. “Doing that, you are saving an entire generation of Nigerians from exposure to toxic mercury”, he said.
“Nigeria is the leader for Africa – what you do will affect the entire continent. It is why World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry has been present in this great nation for each of the past three years, four times in all, to work for mercury-free dentistry.
“Like all the countries that participated in the negotiations of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and even those who have ratified it, it is clear that the question of dental amalgam phase down remained one of the priorities for Africa region. So many progresses have been made in Africa on this question and Nigeria as well.
“These enormous progress at the federal level are attributed to the excellent quality of men and women at the environmental and health ministries, at this point, allow me please to nominate Dr. B.O. ALONGE, Chief Dental Officer of Nigeria and Director Charles IKEAH, Pollution Control and Environmental Health, Federal Ministry of Environment, who leads your government’s delegation at the Minamata Convention negotiations.
“The World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry is proud to work with the National Dental Association these past five years led at this day by Dr Eshikena OMOSHIBO. We are most proud to closely work with the esteemed Professor and former Dean Godwin ARITOBA, and we want once again to salute his leadership to bring 21st century dentistry to Nigeria. I am pleased that you are joined by Professor Jo FRANCKEN, whose well-known work as a pioneer of A.R.T. I have been reading about and promoting in African continent for at least a decade”, Bally said.
Bally, who expressed greeting from the President of WAFMD, Charlie Brown, said Progress toward mercury-free dentistry is succeeding in Nigeria, Africa’s colossus state, because of the work of her excellent NGO team, led by Dr Leslie Adogame in Lagos and including Dr Thomas Aneni in Benin City and Mrs. Joy Eziallor in Enugu.
In her goodwill message, Director, Family health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi, who congratulated NDA on the occasion of her 52ndAGM/SC, urged participants to probe into the wisdom of phase down of dental amalgam.
In his presentation on “Dental Amalgam phase-down: The imperative of curriculum review and update in dental schools in Nigeria” Dr. Adolphus Loto said curriculum update is a necessity in the ever-changing world owing emerging knowledge and techniques through research and technological development/advances among others.
Loto, who urged dental practitioners to embrace change, stressed that curriculum update will involve update of courses at almost every level of a typical 6 years Bachelor of Dental Surgery programme.
In his presentation on “Phase down of dental amalgam: The Training of 21st century Dentists”, Coordinator, Mercury free dentistry in Nigeria, Prof. Godwin Arotiba said no evidence to support the continued use of dental amalgam as restorative material in the 21st century.
Prof. Arotiba who stressed the need for Minimum Intervention Dentistry (MID) said its goal is to keep oral tissues healthy and functional for life, adding that MID has application in periodontology, oral surgery and oral rehabilitation and that all branches of dentistry will soon embrace MID.
He said “Mercury dental amalgam has no place in 21st century dentistry”.
International facilitator, Prof. Jo E. Frencken, said Nigeria should not be fast in phasing down of dental amalgam but should consider national economy in the area of availability of alternatives to dental amalgam.
He went further “you don’t destroy your old house, when you have not build a new one”.
Several papers were presented at the conference which include Use of glass hybrid materials for restoration; Atraumatic restoration treatment in Dental Education(ART) by Prof. Jo Frencken among others.