All countries; whether their economies are developed, developing or in transition are faced with the universal challenge of providing safe, quality and affordable healthcare. Dental care is a particular area of healthcare that is not prioritized, especially in developing nations. The idea of mercury free dentistry is therefore widely unknown and discussed very little outside the dental profession.
Mercury used in dentistry is harmful to human health and the environment. Globally, nations need to be aware of this relationship and take action to reduce the release of mercury, which pollutes the environment and harms human health. At a national level initiatives are being carried out by NGO’s to stop or reduce the use and impact of mercury dental amalgam in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and India. In Bangladesh, Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) is pioneering awareness campaigns on the harmful effects of mercury dental amalgam with dentists, dental colleges, government and the general public.
The Global Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry is operating at an international level, building awareness and policy advocacy. As an environmental organization ESDO focuses its intervention on human health and environment degradation. ESDO’s research and studies are continuously finding that mercury dental amalgam is contaminating soil, water and air. ESDO needs to build public awareness, using the appropriate media to disseminate this information with a clear message of the consequences and the remedy.
Audio-visual media is a powerful medium to carry and communicate this very important message. It is effective and provides ease in communicating to audiences across international borders. Audio-visual messages and information on mercury dental amalgam can have a significant impact on global societies and policy change. This way of intervening will create countrywide mass awareness about mercury free dentistry in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and West Bengal & Assam of India, as well as around the globe. It will help to prepare a policy guideline and encourage global government to formulate a policy on the use, sale and import of mercury dental amalgam and the protection of human health and the environment. Moreover, through this project one or more countries of this region will become a role model for other less developed/developing countries to initiate such awareness raising activities and stop the use of mercury dental amalgam through a phase-out mechanism.
A mercury treaty, the Minamata Convention, is now on the table and Bangladesh signed the document in October 2013. Bangladesh, along with most other countries now needs to ratify the convention. Now is the time to build public awareness and understanding to move policy makers to implement the treaty. By population Asia is a largest continent and South Asia is a hugely populated region with India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan all vulnerable in terms of chemical and environmental pollution. That is why our focus for intervention is in this region. ESDO maintains very good relationships with these countries as it works with partner organizations in India and Nepal. Moreover, Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are informed about ESDO’s environmental achievements in plastic waste management and e-waste management in Bangladesh and its global interventions. Therefore, ESDO is well established to coordinate campaigns in this region.