Minister of Health, Joseph Yieleh Chireh on Friday called on the Ghana Dental Association (GDA) to provide comprehensive oral health care to the public.
He said this would help minimise the occurrence of oral health diseases in the country.
Mr Yieleh Chireh made the call when addressing the opening session of the 20th Annual Congress of GDA in Accra. It is on the theme: ”Comprehensive Oral Health Care for All-Challenges and Solution”.
The Sector Minister explained that comprehensive oral health care was the provision of integrated, preventive, curative and primitive health service to mankind.
He noted that studies had shown that 80 per cent of school children were affected with gum diseases whilst 20 per cent were affected with dental caries. He added that children from poor homes were four times likely to have dental decay in early childhood.
It is estimated that less than one out of five children get preventive dental service in a year due to financial constrains.
Mr Yieleh Chireh noted that the major oral diseases that were amenable to preventive services shared common risk factors with other major preventable diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes which mostly were generated from tobacco smoking, inappropriate diet, alcohol consumption, injuries, poor hygiene and exposure to ultra-violet radiation.
“Increasing access to comprehensive dental care and eliminating oral health disparities is a top priority for the Ministry of Health,” he added.
Mr Yieleh Chireh said the main objective of the Ghana Dental Project was to ensure availability and access to essential dental services of high quality for individuals and deprived communities.
Under the project is the provision of timely and appropriate oral care outside the health centres, which the Ministry had partnered with other agencies to promote science and technology that can curb occurrence of dental diseases in the country.
He urged dentists to help strengthen the school oral health programme by promoting regular check-ups and preventive care for school children.
The minster stressed that the control of oral diseases did not only depend on the availability and accessibility of oral health care delivery system but the reduction was possible when services were oriented towards primary health care.
He gave the assurance that government would endeavour to address issues confronting the practitioners to ensure a sufficient, sustainability, and appropriately skilled work force to meet the identified oral health needs of the people.
He commended dentists for their contribution towards the growth of Ghana and expressed the hope that more dentists would be trained to help address the issue at hand.
Dr Josephine Sackeyfio, President of GDA, said comprehensive dental care was to provide full range of dental health services and rehabilitation to all patients.
She noted that most students undergoing training were posted to accredited health institutions in the country to start oral health care delivery but indicated that inadequate facilities their work frustrating.
These therefore compelled most of them to seek greener pastures outside the country instead of applying the knowledge acquired to impact unto the society.
“Eighty per cent of the dental equipment available at the accredited health centres have broken down and needed maintenance or replacement to make the young dentists give off their best when posted to the deprived areas,” she added.
Dr Sackeyfio promised that dental surgeons would continue to provide valuable services to the people and assured that the GDA was commitment to performing better if stakeholders played their respective roles by providing the right equipment, as well as creating conducive working environment for the surgeons.
She appealed to government to help undertake a complete comprehensive overhauling of clinics through refurbishment of broken down equipment.