Oral Health Month a first for Guyana

Stabroek News
November 7, 2002

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For the first time ever, a month had been dedicated to observing activities to promote oral health in Guyana.

According to the Government Information Agency (GINA) the month of November will see health workers collaborating with other entities to increase awareness and education about oral health. Oral Health Month was officially launched on Sunday last with a road march that started at the Ministry of Health on Brickdam and ended at the Cheddi Jagan Dental Centre. The march, which was hosted by the Ministry of Health and Colgate Palmolive Limited, featured children from various primary city schools chanting choruses on caring teeth.

In his speech to declare Oral Health Month reality, Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy said that oral health was one area that had been neglected over the years and as such his ministry was at the helm of oral health promotion in Guyana. He said that most Guyanese neglect the health of their teeth, often resorting to extraction rather than preservation. Ramsammy dedicated Guyana's first Oral Health Month to the Pan American Health Organization's 100th anniversary being celebrated this month, in recognition of their outstanding contribution in promoting proper mouth hygiene.

According to the minister, among the plans for the improvement of the quality of oral health care delivery, are several school outreach programmes. To this end the Ministry aims to have active dental programmes in at least 75 percent of the schools countrywide. Efforts are also underway for the introduction of dental programmes at ante-natal clinics to ensure that expectant mothers have proper dental care. According to the GINA release, the Ministry of Health has plans to convert the Cheddi Jagan Dental Centre into a full-fledged dental school so that more persons can be trained and the range of services expanded. The National AIDS programme Secretariat will also be working hard with the dentists to help them increase detection of patients with HIV and to help enhance their ability to treat such patients.

PAHO country representative Dr Bernadette Theodore Gandhi noted that the oral health programme is a good way to eliminate many of the dental health problems that children have had in the past. She also said that since one of the health indicators that oral health depended on was nutrition, parents needed to ensure that children were well-nourished, thus reducing chances of cavities.

According to GINA Colgate Palmolive Limited had started dental programmes in schools several years ago, targeting children between the ages of six and eleven years old, but they were discontinued. However the programmes were restarted in 1999 and according to Manager Joe Bhagwandin, have been very successful to date. The joint programmes are being executed in 65 schools around the Caribbean and include a mobile unit.

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