Dental woes rise

National, Normal

LACK of human resources is the leading contributing factor towards the lack of implementation of the national oral health plan in the past 10 years.
The principal adviser of oral health services, Dr Gregory Mainao, said there had been a shortage of dental doctors, technicians and orderlies.
Dr Mainao was in Lae to meet with 30 dental professionals from around the country to review the oral health plan for the past 10 years and to discuss the plan for 2011-20.
He said the dental health plan for the next 10 years would be aligned to the National Government’s strategic plan and will produce evidence-based budgets.
The week-long meeting was held at the Lae International Hotel. 
A lot of dental clinics around the country are manned by dental nurses.
“We have been able to maintain the nurses because their training has been continuing,” Dr Mainao said.
However, training for dental doctors, orderlies and technicians was suspended when the University of Papua New Guinea stopped their training programme in 1988.
At present, PNG has only 17 dental doctors.
Other limitations to dental health services in the country were attributed to the lack of dental facilities in the districts, especially within church-run clinics.
The increase in the country’s population has also placed a strain on hospitals that were built to cater for two million people and not six million.
“That is why we have long queues in major hospitals,” he said.
Lack of equipment and supplies have also prevented effective service delivery in dental health care.