KENYA – The Kenyan Ministry of Health has published key policy documents on oral health in a bid to combat oral health challenges, protect all citizens from preventable diseases and significantly improve the oral health status of Kenyans.

The Ministry of Health has launched the National Oral Health Policy for the period 2022-2030 and the first-ever National Oral Health Strategic Plan 2022-2026 to guide the implementation of the policy in a move to boost access to oral health care.

The National Oral Health Policy announcement follows a nationwide situational analysis that revealed gaps in oral health systems in Kenya including infrastructure, human resource, commodities, supplies and technology.

The published key policy document seeks to bridge gaps in oral health service delivery and address unequal distribution of oral health professionals and a lack of appropriate health facilities to meet the needs of citizens.

The Health Ministry has also initiated mechanisms to accelerate implementation of the crucial policy on oral in order to grant Kenyans their constitutional right to health towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The policy will be implemented in consultation of all public and private stakeholders that are actively working towards achieving UHC in Kenya to ensure that proper attention is given to oral health needs of Kenyans especially vulnerable groups.

According to the World Health Organization, oral health is a key indicator of overall health, well-being and quality of life encompassing a range of diseases and conditions that include dental caries, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, oro-dental trauma, noma and birth defects.

Despite oral diseases being largely preventable, they are among the most common noncommunicable diseases worldwide with nearly 3.5 billion cases of oral diseases and other oral conditions recorded globally in 2019.

According to an oral survey conducted in Kenya in 2015, one in every two children aged five years suffers from tooth decay and the findings further revealed that all adults interviewed had at least one current dental problem that required attention.

Subsequently, Kenya developed an ambitious national response to promote oral health, reduce oral health inequities and strengthen efforts to address oral diseases and conditions as part of UHC.

Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache emphasized that oral diseases are among the commonest chronic diseases worldwide, noting that it constitutes a major public health problem due to the resultant disease and economic burden on individuals, families, societies and health care systems.

She reaffirmed that the oral health policy is part of evidence-based health interventions that will strengthen oral health systems in Kenya to benefit all people across the country.

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