Acting Minister of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, addressing the delegates attending the Ninth Annual Spring Dental Conference of the Caribbean Dental Programme at the Accra Beach Hotel.??
(A. Miller/BGIS)

A move by Government to ensure children are examined by a dentist, prior to entering primary and secondary school, has been deemed innovative by Acting Minister of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner.

The Senator was at the time addressing local and international delegates attending the Ninth Annual Spring Dental Conference of the Caribbean Dental Programme at the Accra Beach Hotel.

Acknowledging that "a beautiful, long-lasting adult smile starts with proper oral hygiene as a child", Mrs. Sandiford-Garner said: "And, the basic way to ensure good oral health … is to ensure that children are maintaining healthy mouths, whilst still in school."

The Acting Health Minister further?? explained to delegates that in recognition of this, Barbados had introduced a crucial first step in the Child Immunisation Book, given at birth, which included two basic oral health stages, where children now had to be examined by a dentist before "they go to primary school and before they enter secondary school".

Calling it "an excellent innovation for the Health Ministry", Senator Sandiford-Garner stated: "So, just as they must be immunised before they go into primary or secondary school, they must now also see a dentist.

This is our way of emphasising prevention and strengthening behavioural changes, two major factors in good health promotion that will not only benefit the Ministry of Health in our campaign against chronic diseases, but will instill basic oral health practices."

Delegates were also told of other plans by the Barbados Government, including enhancing the delivery of dental services, notwithstanding budget constraints, by extending the services offered to the elderly and persons with disabilities.?? "Creative strategies must be adopted to address the needs of the most vulnerable in our society, to ensure that they have access to quality oral health care," Mrs. Sandiford- Garner maintained.

Commending the organisers of the conference, she stated that such events would benefit the country and assist practitioners in establishing and maintaining standards of excellence that could be passed on to all ancillary dental personnel.?? "Continuing education plays a key role in the achievement of this objective," the Acting Health Minister said, adding that this was a requirement now provided for in the Medical Profession Act, already passed in Parliament and set to become effective in another two months.????

She noted too, that the Health Ministry would be reviewing other pieces of legislation that govern the practice of all health professionals in order to improve standards that will meet global requirements.

"The enactment of the updated and revised Dental Registration Act will make attendance at conferences such as these (along with other modes of continuing professional development) mandatory," Mrs. Sandiford-Garner stressed.

Meanwhile, dental practitioners were assured that though it seemed a long time in coming, the Dental Council, along with the relevant stakeholders, would be working assiduously on this legislation to ensure the profession was brought up to date and into the 21st century, for the benefit of the professionals, as well as the clients.

The conference, which is being held under the theme "Team Essentials in Dental Aesthetics," will run until May 1. Among the key issues being addressed are "Hypersensitivity and New Techniques"; "Implants and Overdentures" and "Why Immediate Implantology Works". There will also be an all-day implant seminar, as well as a workshop on "Anterior Cosmetic Dentistry".


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