Majority of Africa’s population has little or no access to proper oral health care, with very few dentists available in some countries, the dentist to population ratio is approximately 1:150000 compared to most industrialized countries which is 1:2000. In Nigeria alone, there are only 4,125 registered dentists; that’s about 40,000 people to 1 dentist.
For most people living in rural areas where there are dental clinics, dental care is expensive and unaffordable for many and usually restricted only to curative services. Insufficient oral care training and education for health workers, who are the people responsible for educating Africa on preventative health care, leads to serious challenges in the pursuit of Africa’s oral health.
Knowledge and awareness are critical but they alone cannot create a good oral health habit. The change needed can only happen only when catering to oral health becomes a social norm. This is where the need for strong partnerships comes in. When NGOs like ours can work alongside government, teachers and community health workers, we can bring about an enduring change in habits and develop sustainable strategies that are inclusive to the most vulnerable, such as children in rural, hard-to-reach areas, orphans and the elderly.
Together we can change the face of oral healthcare in Africa.