Abuja – The Federal Government on Monday reiterated its determination to continue to promote oral health in the country through sensitization of the population on the gains of keeping their mouth clean, and making sure adequate expertise and tools are available for persons who need them for oral health care.
Minister of Health, Prof. Adewole Isaac stated this in at a press briefing to commemorate 6th edition of National Oral Health Week in Abuja.
Addressing journalists on the theme “Coming Together to Improve the Smiles of Nigerians,” the minister said oral health meant more than healthy teeth.
He said oral health is multifaceted and includes the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow, and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort, and disease of the craniofacial complex.
The mouth, he noted, is the gateway to the body and it is also the mirror of the body since it serves as a useful tool in detecting the early signs and symptoms of endemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, measles, syphilis and diabetes.
Represented by Director of Hospital Services in the ministry, Dr Wapada Balami, the minister informed that oral health is essentially an integral part of overall health.
He argued that researchers had discovered that an unhealthy mouth might reveal medical complications like increased risk of heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes mellitus and preterm labour, pain, discomfort and anxiety, adding that oral diseases certainly affect the overall productivity of individual and the society at large if not addressed.
He said the ministry was working hard to ensure a reduction in the prevalence of Noma, a debilitating necrotizing disease that affects the face and begins as a gingival ulcer and spreads rapidly through the tissues of the mouth and face disrupting anatomic barriers and spreading through muscles and bone.
Noma is common with children under the age of six years who live in extreme poverty and malnutrition.
He said of efforts to promote oral in the country by the ministry: “The dentistry division of the Department of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health has the responsibility to coordinate oral health in the country, implement National Oral Health Policy and coordinate dental treatment in all public hospitals and clinics and in all private hospitals and clinics. The department also ensures standards and ethics for dental equipment used in public and private hospitals and clinics. It provides infrastructure, guidelines and personnel for undergraduate dental training, allied dental training and post basic professional dental training.
“The ministry also develops, plans, monitors and evaluates oral health programmes as well as coordinate activities of professional associations in line with the mandate of the Federal Ministry of Health. It is my pleasure to inform you that despite the dwindling economy, the ministry has vigorously implemented the National Oral Health policy which was launched in 2012, particularly in the areas of oral health promotion, oral health service delivery, and human resource development for oral health.
“In the area of provision of infrastructure, we have supplied 26 dental chairs to Federal Medical Centres and their outstations across the six geo-political zones of the country, to strengthen oral health service delivery. The ministry has also supplied and upgraded six orthopantomogram machines in six dental schools across the six geo-political zones to facilitate the development of human resource for oral health. The 2017 annual National Oral Health week is the sixth edition since the launch of the National Oral Health policy and is aimed at increasing oral health promotion in the country. the World Oral Health Day is commemorated annually by the Federal Ministry of Health and its partners.
“You will recall that the Federal Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding during the 2016 Annual Oral Health Week to reach out to 10 million Nigerian school children. In the last 12 months, we have successfully reached out to over 4000 schools and two million school children in Lagos, Abia, Rivers, FCT and Delta States.”