Three African countries to phase down dental amalgam use
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania: As reported by Daily News, a Tanzanian online newspaper, the East Africa Dental Amalgam Phase-down Project has been successfully implemented in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Among other objectives, the project will investigate supply and trade patterns, and encourage switching to alternatives to dental amalgam in the three countries.*
Under the co-ordination of UNEP Chemicals, the centre for all United Nations Environment Programme activities concerning chemicals, and the World Health Organization’s Global Oral Health Programme, the ministries of Environment and Health in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will be collaborating with the FDI World Dental Federation, International Dental Manufacturers and their respective national dental associations to explore essential conditions for a phase-down in the use of dental amalgam.
Over a period of a year, the project will investigate the current supply and trade of dental amalgam and materials alternative to amalgam. It will also assess the current waste management practices, create awareness of preventive dental care and encourage a switch to appropriate alternatives to dental amalgam among dentists and patients. In addition, the project is aimed at environmentally sound management of dental restoration material waste in selected dental facilities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
However, Prof. Febronia Kokulengya Kahabuka, project co-ordinator in Tanzania and Associate Dean of the School of Dentistry at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, cautioned: “Even with the success of the pilot project, Tanzania faces inadequate funding to roll out to all dental facilities across the country.”
Amalgam, which contains up to 50 per cent mercury, remains one of the most widely used restorative materials worldwide, although scientists have expressed concerns about its possible adverse health effects, especially among younger patients. The chemical has been linked to kidney, brain, and neurological damage, as well as damage to the digestive tract.