DOH Wants to Ban Importation of Mercury-Containing Products
The Department of Health (DOH) may recommend to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the banning on the importation of mercury-containing products in the Philippines.
In a telephone interview, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral reiterated that mercury is highly toxic so the use of any product containing the substance should be prohibited.
“I think products like fluorescent lamps have mercury. We will propose to the DENR that these products be banned. We will see,” she said.
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can affect the kidney and the nervous, digestive, respiratory and immune systems.
In 2008, the DOH issued Administrative Order (AO) No. 21 imposing the “gradual phaseout of mercury in all Philippine health care facilities and institutions.”
The AO is in line with the stand of the World Health Organization in 1991 that a “safe level of mercury exposure, below which no adverse effect,” has never been established.
Cabral reminded all hospitals, infirmary, lying-in clinics and other health facilities that they have until December this year to comply with the phaseout.
“The DOH has not been registering thermometer and blood pressure apparatus with mercury (because of that AO). We want to remind health care facilities that they have until this year to switch to alternative devices,” she said.
The two medical devices that contain mercury are thermometers and sphygmomanometers used to take the blood pressure of a person.
The non-governmental organization Health Care Without-Southeast Asia, which has been advocating for the ban, gave assurance that digital alternatives for these devices are easily available and affordable.
By next year, Cabral said there should be no mercury devices in the Philippines so health care facilities should have already started phasing them out.