Fluoride Action Network

Kenya launches campaign to combat oral diseases amid healthcare personnel shortage

Source: XinhuaNet | September 26th, 2017 | By Ben Ochieng
Location: Kenya

NAIROBI, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) — Kenya’s ministry of health in conjunction with industry partners on Monday launched a month long campaign to combat oral diseases that have worsened against a backdrop of healthcare personnel deficit and changing dietary habits.

Officials said the nationwide campaign will sensitize the public on proper hygiene and regular checkups to curb spread of bacterial diseases that affects the mouth.

“The government has adopted innovative measures to reduce the burden of oral diseases that have escalated against a backdrop of poor hygiene and inadequate dentists in public health facilities,” remarked the Deputy Head of Oral Unit in the Ministry of Health, Dr Miriam Mureithi.

The Kenya Oral Health Survey that was conducted recently indicated Kenya has one dentist per 42,000 patients, which falls short of the recommended ratio of one dentist per 7,000 patients by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mureithi said the government has prioritized training of dentists to help deal with personnel gaps in public health facilities where poor citizens affected by oral diseases seek treatment.

“We are developing the national health care policy that will spell the scope of work for dentists and eliminate quacks who have undermined provision of quality oral health services in the country,” said Mureithi.

She disclosed that out of the 1,400 dentists working in the country, only 500 work in the public service, with only 25 percent of the total population having access to dental care.

Mureithi said that most health facilities in the country lack modern infrastructure to deal with oral diseases.

She noted that the majority of dental laboratories are poorly equipped and facilities lack sufficient commodities.

The official said the common dental ailments in the country are tooth decay, gum diseases, dental caries, dental fluorosis and maxillofacial trauma (interpersonal violence that cause injuries to head, mouth and neck).

On his part, the national secretary of the Kenya Dental Association, Dr. Tim Theuri, said dentistry is a capital-intensive venture, adding that oral diseases are the most expensive to treat.

“Dental procedures are so expensive because they are performed by highly trained professionals who practice with expensive equipment who must carry a large amount of malpractice insurance to operate,” said Theuri.

Former Dean of Dental Sciences at the University of Nairobi, Professor Louise Gathece, said that about 95 percent of Kenyans do not know how to correctly brush their teeth.

“Unlike other illnesses, dental diseases are 100 percent preventable. Oral care is a lifetime commitment and requires effort. By accessing right information and tools and including them in daily routine, one can reduce chances of getting oral disease,” Gathece remarked.

The oral health campaign, which was started in 2012, aims at teaching families about the importance of proper oral care.

*Original article online at http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-09/26/c_136637671.htm