Kathmandu— Academician, dental professionals and environmental experts emphasizes the protection of human health and environmental pollution and urge the government to take initiative step to introduce national regulation on mercury-free dentistry, mercury free health care services and an alternative dental curriculum.
In line with the Phase down of Mercury amalgam, a High Level Policy Meeting on Mercury Free Dentistry and Health Care Services in Nepal was organized by CEPHED in association with Nepal Dental Association (NDA), Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MOSTE) and Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) with the support of the World Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry (WAMFD), IPEN/IMEAP and UNDP GEF SGP to address the issues of massive use of mercury amalgam in dentistry and various mercury based measuring equipments in health care services in the light of phase down the mercury amalgam, revised the dental school curriculum and effective implementation of the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Health and Population’s decision to ban the Import, Purchase and Use of mercury containing products in the health sectors.
Altogether 60+ high level officials from all concerned stakeholders including the government, developmental agencies, professional associations, academic universities and institutions providing dental education, dental doctors and media personnel’s took part and vigorously discussed on the issue of phasing down the use of mercury amalgam, immediate needs of dental education curriculum and have required national policies in place. Notable participants of program include the Secretary, MOSTE, international experts and Dean and HOD from different universities and medical colleges of country.
From policy level perspective, in one side, Ministry of Health and Population has already made a decision to ban the import, purchase and uses of mercury containing products, equipmentsm and are in implementation phase, whereas in other side Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment had signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury and are process of ratification of Convention. From professional perspective, the continuous use of mercury in dentistry as amalgam filling and the use of numerous mercury containing instruments in health care services in Nepal has already recognized as their health issues as they are getting higher exposure of this toxic mercury such as dental doctors, nurses, patients, patients` care takers, waste handlers as March, 2015, Sunday, academician, dental professionals and environmental well as heavy environment load of mercury.
The Inauguration program was completed under the chairmanship of Dr. Suprabhat Shrestha, President, Nepal Dental Association (NDA). Program was formally inaugurated by Dr. Krishna Chandra Paudel, Secretary, Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment through irrigating a plant as a symbol of environment conservation and playing the radio jingle on mercury through CEPHED`s Audio Notice Board.
Welcome address delivered by Mr. Ram Charitra Sah, Executive Director and Environment Scientist of CEPHED. He highlighted the mercury free health care services and mercury free dentistry initiatives taken by government, private sectors, professional associations and individual dental doctors and advocate for the urgent need of time bond commitment towards phase out plan, regulatory frameworks and inclusion of mercury free alternatives in the dental curriculum from the respective sectors. All distinguished guests shed light on the issues and praise the efforts of CEPHED jointly taken with all concerned stakeholders.
Dr. Krishna Chandra Paudel, Secretary, MOSTE stated “currently Government of Nepal is doing homework for the ratification of Minamata Convention and is committed to ratify the Convention soon. After the ratification, Nepal must eliminate the use of mercury containing instruments in health care services and the use of amalgam in dentistry.” As we have learned that Mercury is dangerous to public health and environment, its importation and uses in any purposes especially in the health sectors including dentistry need to be immediately stooped.Dr. Balkrishna Khakurel, DG, Department of Drug Administration shared “as mercury is recognized as the harmful chemical for human health and environment, DDA is planning to enlist mercury as hazardous chemical and ban the use of mercury amalgam in the dental health care services with the formulation of required policies.”
Dr. Suprabhat Shrestha, President, Nepal Dental Association stated “since Dentistry sector as profession is always supposed to be the patient friendly, Nepal Dental Association is committed to phase down the use of amalgam and progress towards mercury free dentistry in coming years. Nepal Dental Association is planning to take the initiative to support the Nepal Medical Councilas well as peruse with academic institutions and universities regarding the revision of dental curriculum for the reduction and ultimately elimination of mercury use in academic setting and practices and move towards mercury free dentistry
Dr. Shahriar Hossain, Vice President, WAMFD, South Asia shared his experiences and what has been happening in national, regional and international arena about the phase out of mercury in dentistry and revision of the dental curriculum and suggest the gathering to follow the best initiatives around the world to protect human life and environment.
Several notable guests such as Dr. Narendra Rana, Dean, School of Medical Science, KU , Dr. Guna Raj Lohani, Chief, Curative Division, MOHP, Mr. Gopal Raj Sherchan, National Coordinator, UNDP GEF SGP, etc. shared their views regarding the health hazard of mercury and shown their commitments to make the desired institutional, legislative and academic process of addressing the issues immediately.
Associate Prof. Dr. Reema Joshi shared the official views and commitments of NDA Initiative of Mercury Free Dentistry in Nepal and shares the important steps taken as the professional association like NDA towards mercury free dentistry and lobbing for curriculum changes.
Dr. Nitin Agrawal, Lecturer, IOM, TU shared the status of dental curriculum from the practical use of mercury perspective and calls for urgent need of revised the dental curriculum in line with the mercury free dentistry.
Dr. Reetu Shrestha, Lecturer at Kathmandu University School of Medical Science shared the progress from Kathmandu University towards the curriculum revision towards phasing down of mercury amalgam related teaching materials and practices.
From Ministry of Health and Population, Mr. Rajeev Pokhrel, Under Secretary, MOHP highlighted the Government of Nepal initiatives and decision to ban the import, purchase and use of Mercury based equipments and also share the views new initiatives of inclusion of mercury amalgam under put the restriction of import and uses in Nepal.
A detail working group session to discuss the Challenges and requirements of alternative curriculum of Dentistry in Nepal and strategies to be followed to develop the relevant National Regulations on Mercury Free Dentistry and Health Care Services was designed and a time bound sectorial commitments for Mercury Free Dentistry (Practices and Teaching), Mercury Free Health Care Services and Research and Public Awareness Activities was drawn.