Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel receives dental health equipment from Director of the Massy Foundation, Lennox Prescod at the launch of the Massy Dental Health Intervention in Secondary Schools Programme on Monday. Looking on is Acting Senior Dental Officer, Michelle Codrington (left); Deputy Chief Education Officer (Schools), Joy Adamson (right); Principal of Parkinson Memorial Secondary School, Ian Holder and students of Parkison Memorial. The school will be the first recipient of the programme. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Third form students attending 22 Government secondary schools across Barbados will benefit from oral health education, rapid screening and oral hygiene kits.

This is as a result of a philanthropic gesture made by the Massy Foundation during a presentation ceremony to Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel, Jeffrey Bostic, at the Ministry’s Culloden Road, St. Michael headquarters on Monday.

Speaking during the handing over of just under $23,000 worth of equipment for the Ministry’s Dental Health Promotion Intervention programme, Mr. Bostic said the philanthropic venture will be conducted by the Government Dental Service over a two-year period.

He noted surveys conducted by the Government Dental Health Services of Barbados in 1995, 2001 and 2011, showed that there was a deterioration in the oral health status of Barbadian children.

“While efforts were being made to address this growing problem in our primary schools through an education and rapid screening programme, no such programmes were in place for the adolescent population in secondary schools. We, therefore, welcome this initiative which will seek to address this deficit,” the Minister said.

He stressed that dental health care was important to the overall health of children, and forming good habits at a young age would help to increase their chances of having healthy teeth for life.

Lieutenant Colonel Bostic added that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention showed that oral health affected a person’s ability to speak, eat and show emotions.

“It also affects self-esteem, school performance, and attendance at work and school. It is known that oral diseases, which include cavities, gum disease [and] oral cancer, cause pain and disability for many persons. Oral disease can also cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year,” he explained.

Noting that public health strategies such as school dental health promotion programmes have been used worldwide to save money and prevent dental disease, the Minister lauded the initiative, stating that philanthropy was emerging as a significant means by which health care systems could advance.

He commended organizations such as the Massy Foundation, the Barbados International Business Association and Sagicor for their contributions to the Ministry of Health and Wellness over the years.

Meanwhile, Director of the Massy Foundation, Lennox Prescod, said the partnership with the Ministry was important as intervention presented an “excellent” opportunity to educate and share proactive care strategies with the upcoming generations which could assist in safeguarding their overall health and well-being.

“We believe that this type of reinforcement is necessary because teen years usually represent a higher risk stage for increased sugar intake and the experimentation with certain social behaviours which can impact on their health,” Mr. Prescod noted.

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