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Dr. Mehmood A Khwaja and Safwan A Khan

The News

Published Date: Nov 11, 2013

News Post: Mercury rising

This refers to the news story, ‘Polyclinic bans mercury
fillings over health hazards ‘ (November 4t). It is heartening to read about
this initiative. An earlier study carried out by SDPI in five selected cities
of Pakistan also indicated that indoor mercury vapours at some dental sites
(dental teaching institutions, hospitals and private dental clinics) were very
high compared to the permissible levels for the protection of public health,
especially that of health workers and children.

Pakistan recently agreed to and signed the Minamata Convention on mercury to
phase out the use of mercury. We hope that other dental institutions in the
country also voluntarily stop mercury use in dentistry before the government
bans it in the near future to meet the obligation of the Minamata Convention.

It is good to note that besides a policy action by the government with regards
to bringing down mercury use at hospitals, there are some who have come forward
to take action on their own. Considering that Pakistan is now a signatory to
the Minatama Convention on phasing out of mercury, relevant government
departments should encourage such steps taken by public or private intuitions
on their own.

Acknowledgment of such health-friendly initiatives will help the government in
spreading the word and accelerate the phasing out process. This pertains more
specifically to provincial governments, since health is now a provincial
subject. Provincial health departments should now take the lead in creating
awareness on the hazards of mercury use, and run a campaign for mercury
phase-out beginning with public hospitals.