The federal government has restated that it is currently working to integrate oral healthcare into the Primary Health Care (PHC) in order to scale up interventions to reach the undeserved, especially those in the grassroots areas of the country.
The Director of Hospital Services of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Dr. Joseph Amedu, who disclosed this at the press briefing to commemorate this year’s National Oral Health Week, with theme: ‘promoting oral health at the grassroots level’, Monday in Abuja, explained that although oral health is very important, it is mostly taken for granted with several factors contributing to the problems of accessing dental care in Nigeria.
According to him, “The National dental healthcare policy targets the integration of oral health care into Primary Health Care, which we aim to achieve by development collaborations with appropriate stakeholders like the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as oral health product manufacturers like Unilever to address the risks involved in oral diseases such as malnutrition, poor oral hygiene, smoking, refined sugars, and to provide the basic package for oral health care in PHC centers nationwide.
“Therefore, the promotion of oral health at the grassroots level is very key to sustaining the healthcare of oral health. Oral care being the entrance to the body is very important in healthcare system generally”. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his address explained that oral health is an integral part of general health and involves optimal functioning of the mouth and tissues in a manner that upholds individual self-esteem and enables him or her to contribute meaningfully to the society.
Represented by the Director of Human Resources at the FMoH, Dr. Aliyu Muhammed, he said, “Oral health problems are regarded as a public challenge. Although poor oral health is not life threatening, it reduces the overall health and productivity of affected persons; ultimately, it may have negative impact across society if it is not checked.
“Despite the dwindling economy, the dentistry division of the federal ministry of health has vigorously implemented the national oral health policy which was launched in the year 2012, particularly in the areas of oral health promotion, oral health service delivery and human resource development for oral health.
“The dentistry division of the department of hospital services of the FMoH has been collaborating with government and non-governmental partners to improve the oral health of Nigerians. Recall that Unilever Nigeria Plc signed a MoU with the FMoH to reach out to ten million Nigerian children across the six geo-political zones of the country during the 2016 national oral health week. Since then, about five million Nigerian school children have been reached on oral health education and behaviours in Abia, Lagos, Rivers, Ondo, Delta and Enugu state”.
He further added: “In order to obtain a more recent national data on oral diseases, the dentistry division in collaboration with non-communicable diseases division, will incorporate an oral health component in the national state survey on non-communicable diseases in Nigeria which will commence soon.
“The division has collaborated with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in the last twelve months to enable it reach out to grass roots on improvement of oral health in Nigeria. “Let me inform you that a robust policy on dental amalgam in Nigeria has been recently developed after a stakeholders meeting this year. The document is undergoing due process for its launch.
“The ministry in collaboration with WHO the training of trainers of national surveillance officers, national orientation agency officers and other healthcare workers on Noma control in the country. We have also developed the capacity of volunteers, traditional birth attendants, surveillance officers, community health extension workers and NOA officers in specific states such as Jigawa, Kebbi, and Akwa Ibom states”.