Africans say NO to Mercury

„Afrika sagt NEIN zu Quecksilber.“ Letzte Woche hatten sich 85 Ärzte, Umweltschützer, Gewerkschaftsvertreter und Wissenschaftler in Johannesburg getroffen und die „Johannesburg Mercury in Health Care Declaration“ beschlossen. Angesichts der Umwelt- und Gesundheitsgefahren die von Quecksilber ausgehen, der Entwicklung in der EU und weltweit sowie der Befürchtung, dass Afrika die „Müllhalde“ für anderswo verbotene Messinstrumente wird, fordern die Unterzeichner eine quecksilberfreie Gesundheitsversorgung, sowie eine Infrastruktur für eine sichere Entsorgung von Quecksilber. Die Regierungen Afrikas sollen die Einführung von quecksilber-freien Alternativen unterstützen und sich für weltweite Übereinkommen einsetzen, die die Herstellung, den Verkauf und den Einsatz von Quecksilber reglementieren.

Die afrikanische Konferenz wurde von afrikanischen und internationalen Umweltgruppen und dem Umweltprogramm der Vereinten Nationen (UNEP) organisiert. Das nächste internationale Quecksilber-Treffen der UNEP ist am 12-16 November in Bangkok. Die „Johannesburg Mercury in Health Care Declaration“ sieht sehr formell aus. Am Anfang stehen die Voraussetzungen (In dem Bewusstsein, dass Quecksilber ein globaler Schadstoff ist …), dann die Beschlussformel und schließlich die Forderungen.

Johannesburg Declaration on Mercury-Free Health Care (25th October 2007)

Aware that Mercury is a bioaccumulative global toxicant and hence poses an acute threat to health care workers, patients, and ultimately a long-term persistent threat to the global environment;

Understanding that healthcare contributes to the global mercury problem through broken and discarded mercury containing medical devices;

Appreciating UNEP’s efforts to promote mercury-use reduction and that WHO has issued a policy promoting the elimination of mercury in the health care sector;

Noting that in the US and Europe mercury-based medical devices have been phased out; that the European Union is developing a mercury export ban; and that several health care systems in Asia and Latin America are phasing out mercury.

Noting further the existing successful local initiatives in the African region to phase out mercury containing devices.

Mindful of the challenge that the awareness level of decision makers, health workers and the general public, regarding the impacts of mercury on environment and human health is very low;

Worried that Africa may ultimately become a dumping ground of banned mercury containing devices; and

Comforted by the fact that affordable, effective and accurate mercury-free alternatives are available.

We, the participants in the First Southern Africa Conference on Promoting Alternatives to Mercury in the Health Care Sector, commit ourselves to

Raise awareness by providing information, education and training to decision makers, health care workers, and the community, focusing on the impacts of mercury and the need to replace it.

Advocate/lobby for appropriate regulation, legislation and enforcement of mercury–free health care (mercury use phase out) at the national, provincial and local levels.

In the short term promote/advocate for the planned and progressive replacement of mercury containing instruments and devices used by the health care sector; and for cleaning up mercury contaminated areas– starting from our work places, and moving up to the local, provincial and national levels.

Create National, Regional/Sub-Regional networks for mercury-free initiatives as well as platforms for sharing knowledge, experiences, technologies and expertise in mercury-free health care devices. Conduct monitoring and evaluation of progress on implementation.

Develop and offer courses on environmental and occupational health–with particular focus on mercury use–to practicing nurses, doctors, environmental health advocates and health care workers in general.

Advocate for the incorporation of environmental and occupational health — with particular focus to mercury use — into education curricula at all levels,

Promote mercury-free health care research and share results in order to achieve fast mercury elimination and its replacement with safer alternatives.

Promote the creation of infrastructure to adequately manage and dispose of mercury waste.

Strongly advocate for Extended Producer Responsibility for mercury-based medical devices.

Collaborate with industries that produce economically viable mercury-free health care devices.

Change purchasing patterns in health care institutions, by phasing-in mercury-free medical devices. Lobby governments to introduce tax incentives to promote mercury-free medical devices.

At Regional and Sub-Regional level, advocate and promote Government collaborative efforts to protect the region from turning into a dumping ground of mercury containing health care devices. In this aspect, sensitize the Africa/SADC Health and Environmental Ministers to take up this matter in their regular meetings as a matter of urgency.

At a global level, strongly advocate for an international legally binding instrument to regulate production, trade and use of mercury, and mercury containing products, as well as to promote the transfer of mercury-free technologies.

Urge African delegates to the forthcoming UNEP Ad-Hoc Open Ended Working Group meeting in Bangkok (12-16 November 2007) to have a common stand in favour of a legally binding instrument.

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