Practitioners want implementation of national oral health policy

oralThree years after the launch of the National Oral Health Policy, the Association of Private Dental Practitioners in Nigeria (APDPN) has bemoaned non-implementation of the much-celebrated health plan.

President of the association, Dr. Bidemi Dawodu, at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos, said it was quite unfortunate that the documents seem to have been abandoned on a shelf to gather dust.

Dawodu said it was one thing to formulate a policy and another to implement it, so “the implementation has not really taken effect.”

The National OHP, which was launched amidst fun fair in November 2012, was veered towards providing dental health care to the grassroots nationwide, as it targeted at least 50 per cent of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) enrollees to have access to primary oral health care by 2015.

The practitioner pointed out that though a system was in place before the existence of the policy, there hasn’t been any new impetus in accordance with provisions of the new policy “and that is what we are fighting for.”

Dawodu who refuted that the change in government has not necessarily affected the implementation of the policy observed funds and political considerations as part of the possible indicators hindering its coming to force.

He explained that there are always scale of priorities in such matters, and since funds is paramount to the budgeting and allocations of such policies, that would have been the cause of delay. “I don’t think is any deliberate attempt by any body to stale it,” he added.

In line with the message for this year’s World Oral Health Day, “It All Starts Here: Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body,” the APDPN boss pointed out that Nigerians need to understand that the mouth is the gateway to the body and taking good care of it saves one from lots of future health problems.

He further said, because of the new trend of copying diets from the western worlds, there has been developments of mix oral diseases that affects both the teeth and gum, “that is why we try to emphasize on the preventive aspect of dentistry.”

Addressing the theme of the AGM, “Business of Dentistry,” Dawodu told journalists that just like many professions, dentists are only thought how to cater for the oral health of their patients in the dental school, “with no body teaching us how to run the business aspect of the profession.”

This he said has made lots of practitioners to run less optimally, therefore creating losses due to lack of business knowledge.

Hence the reason to give practitioners basic needs on how to run their businesses.

In the same vein, one Mrs. Tola Owoturo who is a private dental practitioner lamented that “we want dentistry to be more business minded, though with empathy, morals and ethics, that is why we want to get dentists to start thinking like business minded people.”

In relevance to the recent World Health Day’s focus which was diabetes, Owoturo reiterated that lot of diabetes cases were discovered from oral check ups where patients with symptoms such as bleeding gum, shaking teeth and acetone breath, are referred for further tests on their sugar levels.

She explained; diabetes symptoms such as bleeding gums, shaking teeth, soggy gums among others which are commonly related to oral health seldom shows any signs of discomfort to the body, but has tendencies to cause multiple disease processes.

She also cited gingivitis (gum disease) as a common oral condition which people take for granted, but left untreated means the patient’s mouth is full of microorganisms, plagues and bacteria and need to be cleaned.

Chronic conditions of such go on to affect the body’s general health and that is why a healthy mouth makes a healthy body, she noted.

Also speaking at the event on the topic “Advertising in Dentistry, Issues Arising,” was the Deputy Registrar of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Dr. Tajudeen Sanusi who noted that often time practitioners get it wrong on the issue of advertisement as stipulated by the council.

He however explained; “Advertisement must not promote the skills of practitioners but rather the services provided in the practice.”

He continued, the person might not be successful in the practice as advertised, and since there is nothing to measure the level of skill, the information in the advert can be deceptive and misleading to the patients.

Sanusi who cautioned dentists to know their limitations on what information they give to pressmen concerning advertisement stressed that as far as MDCN is concern, advertisement must be strictly focused on services rendered.

On the attitude of Nigerians to oral health, Dawodu regretted saying “though we not happy with the level of progress, but it is getting better because it is a continues process.”

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