The first step of a million miles journey in addressing the deplorable state of Sierra Leone’s oral health services has been made.
The Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoH) and Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association, on Wednesday after three days of brainstorming and heated deliberations concluded that there was need for the production of a national oral health policy framework at the Kimbima Hotel in Freetown.
The present situation analysis of oral health care in the country gave rise to the urgent need of a national oral health policy.
It is no hidden fact that oral health services and programmes in Sierra Leone are extremely under resourced. Realizing this fact, the vision of the national policy is to ensure that the policy is in conformity with the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution by making sure that the population of Sierra Leone, particular the children, enjoy the highest attainable standard of oral health that meet their needs five years of age; increase the number of five year old children who do not have dental decay; introduce a programme for fluoride supplement for all people; increase access to relief of pain from dental or oral origin of all people in Sierra Leone; reduce maxillo-facial trauma that result form road accidents; reduce oral mucosal disease resulting from the use of tobacco and alcohol; develop a standardized monitoring and evaluation system of oral health.
According to the planning workshop facilitator Dr Don Davies, “the national oral policy is in place and for the past three days we have not spent our time in vain to come out with a valued document to make oral health which the ministry will use in strategic plan to make oral health worthwhile in Sierra Leone.”
He further explained that “it is the will of both local and international organizations to ensure that the national oral health policy is being implemented and sustained.”
Oral health is the health of the mouth. It also includes the gum, tongue, soft and hard palates, oro-pharynx and teeth; as well as the surround structures: the face jaw and associated glands. The health of these structures impacts on eating, sleeping, communicating and the ability to carry out daily activities.