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Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has announced that the Government will be launching a programme to promote oral health as a mechanism to enhance the general health in the population, and stave off Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes.

“The Ministry will, in conjunction with its collaborative and coalition partners develop a national school based dental sealant and fluoride programme. I acknowledge the work of our major partners, Colgate Palmolive and Great Shape INC. It is important that the profile of oral health is not diminished as a component of general health plans,” he stated while addressing the 49th Annual Convention of the Jamaica Dental Association (JDA), at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, in Rose Hall, St. James, on Thursday, May 2.

Adding that the programme will promote best practices, the Minister said oral health integration is necessary in the prevention of other health challenges.

“Oral health promotion that is integrated into general health programmes and recognises the mouth as an intrinsic component of a person’s body and their health represent natural, holistic and best practice approaches, he stated.

Dr. Ferguson had in February indicated that the Ministry is seeking to enhance dental health care options, as part of efforts to improve the overall health of Jamaicans.

Dr. Ferguson said his ministry would continue to integrate oral health policies into other public health policies, and establish the various linkages between oral diseases and NCD’s from a policy perspective.

The Minister noted that the country’s two dental schools would have a significant impact on changing the landscape of dentistry, by addressing the adequacy of the dental workforce, and the promotion of evidence-based approaches with best practice management in dentistry.

He noted that six Cuban dental surgeons will arrive in the island next month to work in the primary health care system in rural Jamaica. This, the Minister said, is part of the pragmatic strategy being rolled out, to address the issues of the dental workforce and to enhance access for the most vulnerable and at-risk communities.

By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter