On 25 February, 2015, EPA, KPK and SDPI, Islamabad, jointly organized a stakeholders meeting on “Mercury Dental Amalgam Use in KPK – Health and Environmental Impacts” in Peshawar. The objectives of the meeting were to impress upon EPA, KPK and provincial government to consider putting up a ban on mercury amalgam use in dentistry or at least restrict its use for pregnant women and children below 12 years age as well as awareness raising of stakeholders and getting their feedback including recommendations, on mercury related issues of national and global concerns, environmental and public health risks resulting from continued mercury amalgam use in the province and the control measures to minimize mercury exposure resulting from mercury emissions/releases at dental sites.
The focus of the roundtable meeting was also to discuss and define pathways through on-going and future research work, training, awareness raising, advocacy and collaboration at the national level. The participants for the meeting were invited from dental teaching institutions (colleges and teaching hospitals), general hospitals, private clinics representatives from districts EPA, KPK, provincial health departments, professional bodies such as the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), Pakistan Dental Association (PDA) and Pakistan Higher Educational Commission (HEC), academic and research and development (R & D) institutions.
The inaugural and closing sessions were, respectively, chaired by Dr M. Bashir Khan, Director General EPA and Mr M. Mushtaq Jadoon, Secretary, Health, Government of KPK. There were three technical presentations: “Dental Health and Amalgam Use in Dentistry,” by Dr Syed Nasir Shah, SB Dental College, Peshawar; “Minamata Convention on Mercury and Phasing Down Mercury Dental Amalgam Use” by Dr M. Bashir Khan, KPK Environmental Protection Agency; and “Need for Phasing Out/Restricted Mercury Amalgam Use in Dentistry – SDPI Air Monitoring at Dental Sites and Dental Curriculum Survey” by Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja, SDPI, Islamabad.
Some main recommendations made and accepted during the meeting were as follows:
- As a signatory of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, dental mercury amalgam use should be regulated in Pakistan.
- At present, KPK province is not in a position to impose a ban on mercury-based dental amalgams as dentists have very few alternatives available.
- An immediate review and revision should be done of the current curriculum offered for bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) at dental teaching institutions in the country.
- Preparation of guidelines for mercury amalgam use by EPA, KPK, with support from SDPI, dental institutions and other academic and R & D institutions.
- Government of KPK and EPA would highlight the mercury dental amalgam issue and PC-1 would be submitted.
- Students would be encouraged to undertake further research work on mercury amalgam use in dentistry at dental colleges and universities.