Minister of Health, Donville Inniss

Dental practitioners and users of the health care system have been urged to fully utilise the Oral Health Policy for Barbados, which was launched today by the Ministry of Health at the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Headquarters.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, in making this call, said the policy "communicates a clear vision and plan for the future direction of a comprehensive oral health programme" and should be used as a guide to extract strategies and interventions that would help to improve oral and overall health care in Barbados.

Mr. Inniss added that it was "deliberately holistic in its orientation" and would help to stimulate dialogue on issues that were as complex as the development of costs recovery mechanisms for the provision of public oral care services, and mechanisms by which the private sector could make a greater contribution to the provision of such services. He further noted that the policy touched on the need for ongoing human resource and infrastructural development.

"…All these issues fit well within the broad plan for ongoing development and reform of the health sector and will receive the highest priority as we undertake activities to improve health services for all persons residing here," the Minister affirmed.

Mr. Inniss stated that oral health was an important concern for any comprehensive health care sector strategy development, since there were clear linkages with general health. "Studies have revealed a direct correlation between oral infections and other health problems that include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, HIV and low-weight births," he said.

In recognising this link, the Minister said his Ministry was committed to supporting the National Dental Health Programme, which provides preventative and restorative dental health services to some 20,000 school children annually. He disclosed that about BDS$2 million had been spent for the delivery of public sector dental health services during the financial year 2008/2009, and for the current financial year it had been increased to approximately BDS$ 2.5 million.????

He indicated that there were some challenges in providing public sector dental services, such as keeping pace with the demand for services and the maintenance of equipment.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????In recognition of the need for support of career development and professional training, the Ministry, in conjunction with PAHO, had committed to the financial support for two dental assistants to undergo training.??

"The funding for this amounts to $63,839 for each year of the three year programme, with a projected total expenditure of $191,519. In addition to this, provision has been made for at least one additional officer to undergo a similar programme of training during the next three financial years," he explained.

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