The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that around 44 percent of the African population suffer from oral diseases.
Development Diaries reports that the new WHO report also shows that the continent’s spending on treatment costs remains extremely low.
It is also understood that Africa has experienced the steepest rise globally in oral diseases over the last three decades.
According to the global health body, oral health remains a low priority in many African countries, leading to inadequate financial and technical investment, which in turn undermines prevention and care services as well as oral health promotion.
The report further stated that around 70 percent of sub-Saharan African countries spent less than U.S.$ 1 per person per year on treatment costs for oral health care in 2019, the latest year for which data is available.
‘Half of the countries in the region do not have oral health policy documents. In addition, the region’s oral health workforce is chronically lacking, with a ratio of just 3.3 dentists per 100 000 people recorded between 2014 and 2019, approximately one-tenth of the global ratio’, the report read in part.
‘Such shortcomings have only been further compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic’.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, while speaking on World Oral Health Day, said, ‘Oral health is integral to general health and well-being, yet it has been neglected in the region for much too long, often with severe and lasting consequences’.
WHO noted that it is crucial for countries to do more to increase access to affordable prevention and care services and ensure that people are equipped with the knowledge and skill on promoting oral health.
To address oral health inequality, there is a need for African countries to shift from treatment-oriented oral health care to more prevention and promotion approaches.
As recommended by WHO, Development Diaries urges health-related ministries in African countries to increase funding for the health sector as prioritising oral health would lessen the burden of diseases in the coming years.
Photo source: WHO