From 2008- 2014, WHO and HCWH collaborated in a global initiative aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of phasing out of mercury-based thermometers and sphygmomanometers in health care and their substitution with accurate, economically viable alternatives.
A component of the UNEP Mercury Products Partnership, the Mercury-Free Health Care Initiative (www.mercuryfreehealthcare.org) achieved significant success in raising awareness among ministries of health, health systems and thousands of hospitals on every continent that it is possible to develop and implement policies and procedures to make the switch away from mercury.
This work provided an instrumental input into the Minamata Convention on Mercury negotiations because it showed that substituting mercury containing measuring devices in health care could be done/was achievable.
Now that the Minamata Convention is in place (including articles that require phase-out of the manufacture, import and export of mercury-thermometers and blood pressure devices by 2020), countries now need to develop and implement national, health-system wide strategies and programmes to phase out the import, manufacture and export of such devices.
Building upon lessons learned from Mercury Free Health, WHO and HCWH will continue with its commitment to work toward full implementation of the Minamata Convention and its target to phase-out mercury-based medical devices by the year 2020. We will do so by working with governments, health systems, hospitals and health professionals, and providing technical expertise to support the transition. Care Initiative, WHO and HCWH are moving into a new phase of work and collaboration to help support countries in these efforts.
For instance, HCWH is currently working on a UNEP funded project with our partners in Brazil and South Africa to foster mercury-substitution in health care. In addition, in 2015-17, HCWH will be engaging in a UNDP-led four country Global Environment Facility project in Africa, in which, together with WHO, we will serve as a Principle Cooperating Agency. This project will foster sustainable health care waste management and mercury substitution in health care in Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia and Madagascar.
A major HCWH vehicle to achieve Mercury Free Healthcare by 2020 will be our Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network www.greenhospitals.net -- a worldwide network of institutions representing the interests of more than 12,000 hospitals and health centers on every continent. GGHH will continue to provide a series of tools and resources to support mercury substitution--- including an online community of experts to advise hospitals and health systems, a forthcoming chemicals substitution guidance document, and more.