The Ministry of Health is seeking to enhance dental health care options, as part of efforts to improve the overall health of Jamaicans.
This is in recognition of the critical link between oral health and a number of non- communicable diseases including diabetes, which is associated with heart disease, stroke, amputation, eye disease, and kidney disease.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said the current ratio of one dentist to 17,000 persons has a significant impact on how diabetes and oral health issues are addressed.
“I am committed to addressing the issues related to access to good care inclusive of good oral health care,” he stated.
The Health Minister was speaking on Wednesday, February 20, at the launch of the University Diabetes Outreach Programme (UDOP) International Diabetes Outreach Conference, at the University of Technology (UTECH) College of Oral Health Sciences, St. Andrew.
Dr. Ferguson noted that as a dental surgeon, he is aware of the linkages that should be made in order to have significant improvements in the overall health and quality of life of Jamaicans.
“Oral health has to be placed atop this platform if we are going to see any meaningful changes in our disease burden,” he remarked.
Noting the strong relationship between oral health and diabetes, he said the disease was the leading cause of death in women, and the third leading cause of mortality in men in 2009, and remains a major cause of illness and death among Jamaicans.