Oral Health is one of the most neglected section of the healthcare with respect to Public Policy. I like the below quote which justifies the current scenario of Oral Health
Dentistry is not expensive, neglect is. ~ Dental Saying
Oral health has economic implications as well which has never been studied in the country. Imagine the loss the productivity because of dental or gum related diseases. This has serious implications for our economy.
Oral Health and Public Policy In India
Oral Health Policy has not seen the light of the day since it was formulated in the year 1986 by Indian Dental Association. Government of India,later on, accepted in principle National Oral Health Policy as component of National Health Policy in 1995
However, it was not integrated with The National Health Policy in the year 1995. It was even neglected in National Health Policy in the year 2015.
The importance of Oral health is continuously neglected by public policy makers over few reasons as stated below:
- Inadequate information about connection between dental and systematic diseases
- Individual negligence over oral health diseases
- Costly curative procedures and inadequate insurance coverage
- No research or survey has been done to prove the dental disease implications on the economy, personal well-being, work productivity, confidence factor and financial burden of individuals
- Dentistry portrayed as cosmetic treatment – Thanks to advertisements!
The negligence is proved by the fact that there are only 2% dentists available for 72% of rural population. A huge population of rural India faces the issue of no teeth or mal-aligned teeth and jaws affecting the proper functioning of the dental system of the body.
Suggestions for Better Dental Health
I would like to provide few suggestions which can help India tackle the menace of dental issues as below:
- Free Oral health checkup camps to be set up at panchayat levels
- Massive awareness program via televisions, radio, announcements and newspaper over implications of neglecting oral issues by Government of India/State-UTs
- Awareness should focus on “Prevention is Better the Cure” philosophy
- Implementation of National Oral Health Policy aligning it with National Health Policy and sufficient budgetary allocations
- Better dental infrastructure in public health centers – leading to declining dental procedure costs because of quality delivery of services.
- Better education over linkage of oral/dental health with general health
- Budgetary allocations should focus more on procurement of materials required to cure various oral issues – which can bring down the cost of treatment in total
- Adequate insurance provisions for oral treatment or prevention or oral diseases
- Increase in grants to dental colleges in India – thereby decreasing the cost of dental education
- Study the dental implications on economy/productivity which can thereby bring to notice to public policy makers and can be given due importance.
- As said in the first paragraph, dentistry is not expensive, its neglect is.
Each of the topics mentioned above is very vast and need detailed analysis and studies to be conducted. In our future articles, we will try to bring out more detail about the same.
Note: Image shown in the article is only for representative purposes.