Global: WHO-HCWH Mercury Elimination Partnership Launched
January 1st, 2009
Health Care Without Harm and the World Health Organization have launched a global partnership to achieve virtual elimination of mercury-based thermometers and sphgmomanometers over the next decade and their substitution with accurate, economically viable alternatives.
This initiative is based on the 2005 WHO Policy Paper which calls for short, medium and long-term steps to achieve the gradual substitution of mercury-based medical devices. It is also grounded in Health Care Without Harm's more than ten years of experience working with the health care sector and national governments in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America to successfully achieve mercury substitution.
The partnership is a component of the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) Mercury Products Partnership, which is led by the US Environmental Protection Agency. This broader UNEP Products Partnership seeks action to eliminate mercury in products such as batteries, lighting and lamps, electrical and electronic devices, dental products, and measuring and control devices.
With specific regard to the WHO/HCWH Health Care partnership, the Products Partnership has set the following objective:
By 2017, to phase out the demand for mercury-containing fever thermometers and sphygmomanometers by at least 70% and to shift the production of all mercury-containing fever thermometers and sphygmomanometers to accurate, affordable, and safer non-mercury alternatives.
The UNEP Products Partnership is in turn part of a larger global effort to address the toxic environmental health impacts of mercury accumulation in the global environment. This effort consists of a series of other voluntary partnerships in areas of major mercury emissions such as chlor-alkali production, artisanal gold mining, coal fired power plants, and mercury waste management.
UNEP has also been charged by the world's governments to explore the possibility of establishing an internationally legally binding instrument to address mercury pollution.