NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1 – Some 10,000 pupils are set to benefit from free dental screening and treatment, courtesy of Oral Health Program rolled out by Mars Wrigley Confectionery and the Kenya Dental Association (KDA).
The program, which is funded to the tune of Sh13.7 million by Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s Oral Health Community Service Grant, will cover Kajiado, Machakos and Meru counties.
This marks the second phase of the program, following the successful completion of the first phase last year.
“In several regions, poor oral hygiene remains one of the leading causes of school absenteeism, with children who experience dental pain missing school and performing poorly academically,” Andrew Wetende, Chairman KDA said, “ Yet, simple and cost-effective preventive oral health strategies are crucial for avoiding costly cures.”
The first phase, which was inaugurated by Nairobi Senator, Johnson Sakaja, reached about 10,000 children in Nairobi, Murang’a and Nakuru counties.
This means that on completion of phase two, which has just kicked off in Kajiado county, a total of 20,000 children across six counties will have benefited in two years.
The dental clinics not only focus on screening and treatment, but also on imparting knowledge on oral health, including basic oral hygiene practices such as brushing twice daily and not sharing toothbrushes.
“Due to the unequal distribution of oral health personnel and the lack of appropriate and functional facilities within the primary health care system across the country, many people have limited or no access to appropriate oral health care services and thus there is need for continuous awareness creation on effective dental self-care,” Wetende explained.
“For the second year running, The Wrigley Company Foundation has remained strongly committed to this program. As an organization, we are not only keen on replenishing smiles but also creating a lasting impact on the communities we live with,” said Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s Corporate Affairs Director for Africa Wanja Mwangi.
In addition to undertaking basic procedures likes simple fillings, fluoride therapy, fissure sealants and extractions among others, the program will also be referring complex cases to nearby public dental facilities.
Kenya experiences a high oral health disease burden as indicated in the Kenya National Oral Health Survey (KNOHS) 2015 results. Some 43.6 per cent of five-year-old children had experienced dental caries.
These children had a decayed, missing, and filled teeth (Dmft) of 1.87 meaning each child had an average of two decayed teeth; while 18.9pc of children sampled reported missing school due to a tooth related problem. Another 27.8pc avoided smiling because they were embarrassed by their teeth.