Zim’s Oral health strategy on cards

By Kuda Pembere

As part of efforts to improve oral health in the country, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) is working on developing a strategy for oral health as well as conducting a national oral health survey.

This was said by Health and Child Care Deputy Minister, Sleiman Kwidini on Wednesday during the World Oral Health Day commemorations themed “Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body”.

According to the oral health situational analysis, carried out last year with support from WHO, there are gaps in service delivery, information for programming, oral health workforce, and tools of the trade (equipment, consumables, and instruments).

“A National Oral Health Survey and Strategy development which were recommended will be carried out this year. This will provide a road map to make sure that no one is left behind. Periodic surveys will be carried out in the future to assess progress.

“I am also happy to announce that the Ministry has acquired 77 dental chairs, 37 intraoral X-rays, and 53 autoclaves. Which will cover the six central hospitals, ten provincial hospitals and 30 district hospitals,” he said.

He also said it was important to foster proper oral health care in young children.

“Members of the public are encouraged to seek oral health services. To increase awareness of Oral health we will need to inculcate a culture of being proud of our mouths Collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is key.

“The school-going age is a critical stage in one’s development. Preventive and clinical interventions undertaken in childhood and adolescents have been known to have superior outcomes as they occur during developmental stages.

“Children spend the greater portion of their time in school. Thus, schools can deliver a supportive setting for promoting children’s oral health. Implementation of the Zimbabwe School Health Policy is a priority for the Ministry.

“Children can be the agents of change that our nation needs. Parents can ultimately become stakeholders in Oral health,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the World Health Organization Representative to Zimbabwe, Dr Trevor Kanyowa said it was disheartening that Africa was spending less than US$1 per person per year on oral health.

“Honorable Minister and dear colleagues, oral health remains a neglected part of patient-centered care and well-being and I would like to share a few facts with you why we say so at WHO. Oral diseases that includes dental caries, gum diseases, loss of teeth remain very prevalent, especially in our region in Africa, affecting about 44% of our population.

“As WHO we are also worried about the limited investments for oral health care and for instance half of the countries in the African region where Zimbabwe belongs to do not have any oral health policies. We are also worried that according to our latest reports, over 70% of the countries in the region have spent less than $1 per person per year on treatment costs for oral health care,” he said. “We are also worried that there is a chronic deficit of oral health workforce. For example, in the region, we have less than one dentist per every 10,000 people. In Zimbabwe, coming closer home, we know that our oral health workforce is limited in number and we also know that they need continued capacity development.”

He also urged the country to a survey at a large scale.

“And another fact that I would like to bring to you today is that scientific data is an area that we need to really work on. Surveys have been done but these are mostly at small scale. So very large surveys still need to be done,” he said.

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