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The Ministry of Health is exploring the possibility of acquiring a mobile unit, as part of efforts to improve the delivery of healthcare across the island, with particular emphasis on oral health.

Persons who may not be able to visit the various health facilities in close proximity to them, will be targeted.

This was disclosed by Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, during a planning and evaluation meeting of the Oral Health Services Unit, at the Alhambra Inn in Kingston on Tuesday, February 12.

“As part of the oral health development, we are considering, during this new financial year… a mobile unit, to become a part of the whole healthcare delivery system, especially in our underserved areas,” the Minister said.

“There are some areas where it is very difficult for persons to come out, because of the terrain…so, we want to be in a position where we can move the service in,” Dr. Ferguson added.

The Minister emphasised that oral health plays a critical role in the overall health of individuals, and lamented that some persons oftentimes pay lesser attention to oral health.

Dr. Ferguson said bad oral health has been a contributing factor to many non communicable diseases, and that many of the risk factors for chronic diseases could also be linked to oral health problems.

“The oral cavity is oftentimes where you tend to see a lot of things, and you pick up that some persons have some kind of disease not related to oral health, and so it is very important as a diagnostic tool,” he said.

Dr. Ferguson said the Ministry will be increasing its promotion of oral and dental care as part of the prevention services at the primary health care level.

While oral health primarily refers to dental health, it also means being free of chronic oral-facial pain conditions, oral and throat cancers, oral soft tissue lesions, birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate, and scores of other diseases and disorders that affect the oral, dental, and craniofacial tissues.

These relate to speaking, smiling, sighing and kissing, smelling, tasting, touching, chewing, and swallowing, as well as facial expressions and also provide protection against microbial infections, among other things.