One dental surgeon serving 140,000 Ugandans - experts

Sunday August 25 2019

 

By SHABIBAH NAKIRIGYA

Dentists under their umbrella Uganda Dental Association (UDA) have said the country urgently needs more dental surgeons to bridge the current pathetic ration of one dentist serving more than 142,000 Ugandans.

Dr Twaha Ayub, the president of UDA, said the number of dentists in Uganda today is very low, with only 302 dental surgeons attending to the more than 42 million people in the country, which he said is overstretching the dentists.

“The ratio of dentists to patients is very low, with one dentist to 142,000 people, yet the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard requires one dentist to 8,000 patients,” he said.
“This has made it very difficult for dentists to reach a good number of citizens and that’s why we have high incidents of dental cases, especially at referral hospitals,” Dr Ayub added.

Dr Ayub, who was speaking during a seven-day, dental health camp in Kampala on Thursday, said 70 per cent of the dentists are in Kampala, with the countryside left without any dentists. The camp was organised by Turkish Operation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) at Saidina Abubakri Muslim Hospital at Kawanda, outside Kampala.

Currently, Uganda has only three institution training dental surgeons. They include Makerere Dental School and Hospital, which is the biggest and oldest facility, Kampala International University, and Uganda Christian University Mukono, which is based at Mengo Hospital in Kampala.

Dr Ayub said there is need to have a functional dental health policy in Uganda, because a Bill, which was passed in 2007, has remained unimplemented for the last 12 years.
“We challenge the ministry of Health to take it up and make sure the policies are implemented when passed. Oral policy has been shielded for too long, 12 years is really a long time and yet we want to improve oral health,” he said.

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Mr Ayub added that oral policy will address the structure and distribution of dentists, especially at national referral hospitals and health centres.
“Dentistry in Uganda has two cadres that is dental surgeons and public health dental officers, who are diploma holders and are supposed to be at health centres but due to the limited number, lower health centres do not have dentists at all ,” he said.
Dr Ayub also said most hospitals do not have adequate dental infrastructure and the few are restricted to mainly removing the teeth.

Mr Yahya Acu, the TIKA country director, said dental health camp was meant to increase access to majority of people who cannot afford dental treatment.
“Not only is the treatment expensive but also the course. That’s why dental surgeons are very few. To train one dental surgeon is the cost of training six medical doctors,” he said.

Mr Acu added that dentists only remove teeth as a last option because patients go to the hospital when the situation has worsened.
“People have changed their diet and eat too much sweets. For this one week, we have received over 400 patients, which means the problem is high,” he said.

INSTITUTIONS
Currently, Uganda has only three institution training dental surgeons. They include Makerere Dental School and Hospital, which is the biggest and oldest facility, Kampala International University, and Uganda Christian University Mukono, which is based at Mengo Hospital in Kampala.

snakirigya@ug.nationmdeia.com

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