All Namibians responsible for oral health: Kamwi

16 Sep 2014 22:50pm
EENHANA, 16 SEP (NAMPA) – Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi says all Namibians have the responsibility of controlling oral disease at family, community and national level.
He said this in a statement read on his behalf by the acting Director of Health and Social Services in the Ohangwena Region, John Hango during the commemoration of National Oral Health Day at Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region last Friday.
Kamwi also called on all stakeholders, oral health workers and community members to become oral health advocates.
“Oral health is the gateway to general health,” he said.
According to Kamwi, oral disease complications are becoming more common because of tobacco and alcohol use and diets that are high in fat, salt and sugar, which are risk factors.
“The good news is that many of the diseases can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society support and funding for awareness, prevention, detection and treatment programmes,” he stated.
Kamwi pointed out that Namibia, like other developing countries, faces a rapid increase in oral diseases and oral cancer.
In addition, HIV/Aids has exacerbated oral opportunistic infections such as oral thrush and narcotising gingivitis.
Global statistics indicate that 90 per cent of the world’s population will suffer from oral disease ranging from periodontal diseases and tooth decay to oral cancer in their lifetime.
The minister further stated that 60 to 90 per cent of school children worldwide have tooth decay, hence toothache is the number one reason for absenteeism from school in many countries.
“Only 60 per cent of the world’s population enjoys access to oral health care,” he said, adding that his ministry is hard at work to improve the quality and quantity of oral health service delivery.
In order to promote oral health, Kamwi has urged all Namibians to brush their teeth at least twice a day (in the morning and at night before going to bed) and to avoid smoking and alcohol use.
People who do not have toothbrushes can make use of chewing sticks, he said.
“Reduce the intake of food that contains sugar, avoid putting the baby to bed with a bottle containing sugary fluid, and visit the dentist at least twice a year for dental check-ups,” Kamwi urged.
Prior to the marking of the National Oral Health Day at Eenhana, oral health teams conducted oral health promotion and disease prevention at certain rural schools throughout the Ohangwena Region.
Namibia’s chief dentist, Dr John Rutambanzibwa told reporters during the Oral Health Day event that the team conducted free dental check-ups of primary school children and rural community members for a week prior to the commemoration.
“Oral workers in Namibia are committed to helping each and every one in achieving optimal oral health through prevention and the highest possible standard of care,” Rutambanzibwa pledged.
The 2014 National Oral Health Day was commemorated under the theme ‘Celebrating Healthy Smiles’.