The Oral Health Professionals Association of Ghana (OHPAG), has called on the Ministry of Health to implement a national policy to direct decisions of oral health in the country.
“There is currently no oral health policy in this country to direct decisions and how things ought to be done. That is one of the challenges we have as a group,” it said.
“So, we are calling on the Ministry to take quick steps to ensure that there is a national oral health policy,” Mr Douglas Avoka, the President of the Association said at a ceremony to mark this year’s World Oral Health Day at Timonde in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region.
The celebration was on the theme: “Be proud of your mouth for a lifetime of smiles,” and brought together officials from Zipline, the Haven of Love Children’s Foundation, Ghana Health Service and Ghana Education Service among others.
Officials of the Association in collaboration with Colgate, one of the world’s leading oral care brands, educated members of the public on oral health and distributed Colgate herbal toothpaste and brushes to them.
Mr Avoka said oral health was under resourced in the country, and expressed concern that some health facilities, especially in the districts had no oral health units, “Even where there are clinics, there are no oral health professionals.”
Oral health was one of the neglected areas in the health care system, and that only four Districts out of the 15 in the Region, had dental clinics, and even the facilities with dental clinics had no Dentists.
“The Regional Hospital for instance which serves a population of over one million people, has only one Dentist, so there will be pressure. The challenge of even having these professionals accepting postings to rural areas is an issue we are dealing with,” he said.
“We may even have a Dentist and not have the logistics to be able to deliver efficient oral health services,” the Association’s President said.
Mr Avoka indicated that the training of Dental professionals was expensive and called on Government to support these professionals to improve oral health care in the Region, especially in the rural communities.
He noted that once individuals received support and were posted to any place, they would be more willing to go and work, but if they funded their own education and successfully complete, they decide wherever they want to work.
The OHPAG President commended Colgate for constructing a borehole for the Biringu Clinic and indicated that the project was aimed at improving access to clean and safe water for the community which was essential for good oral health.
Mr Samuel Nana Bekai Djirackor, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Haven of Love Children’s Foundation, a Non-Governmental Christian Organisation, told the media that the Foundation had over the years taken keen interest in issues of children’s health, and oral health was of paramount importance to the Foundation.
He said the Foundation partnered with the OHPAG to ensure that children benefitted from the oral health screening exercise, which was part of the celebration, saying it was critical to help children in the rural areas to understand the essence of good dental health care and grow with healthy teeth.
Ms Gifty Atibila, a beneficiary of the oral screening exercise, expressed gratitude to the OHPAG for the initiative to screen and offer toothpaste and toothbrushes to them to help improve their oral health care.