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WECF: Five women ministers and WHO call for immediate action to stop mercury pollution and protect health

At high level event on “Women and Mercury in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) – health impacts on women and future generations” on 10 October 2013, five women ministers of environment from the African region (South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya) called for immediate action to stop mercury pollution in ASGM. Their goal is to protect women and children’s health in particular in so far they constitute 30-50% of the workforce in ASGM in Africa. The event was organised by WECF, IPEN and co-hosted by the Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa, co-chair of the Network of Women Minister and Leaders for the Environment.

The memory of the tragedy of the mercury poisoning women in Minamata along with terrible birth defects in several generations was the reason to sign the Minamata Convention on ending the use of mercury said deputy Minister of Environment and Water Ms. Mabudafhasi of South Africa.

The Ambassador for Sustainable Development from Sweden, Ms. Markovic, recalled that the precautionary principle is crucial and she also called on countries to include sound chemicals management in their proposals for Sustainable Development Goals (post2015).

The Minister of Environment of Mozambique, Ms. Antonio de Abreu, underlined the lack of knowledge of the population of the linkage between unhealthy newborns and mercury.

This issue is of great concern like the Minister of Environment of Tanzania, Ms. Huvisa said: “For Africa, mercury diseases problem may be bigger than climate change issues”.

Originally posted on 27 November 2013

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