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General News | Jun 25, 2004

Beverage Manufacturers urged to reduce sugar content of products

GNA

Accra, June 25, GNA - The Ghana Dental Association (GDA), on Friday called on beverage manufacturing companies to reduce the sugar content of their products to help control oral diseases. "The sugar content of the soda drinks and sweets on our markets are so high that they contribute to the bad oral health and tooth decay of our people especially the children," Dr Chloris Adadevoh, President of the Association said in Accra. He was opening a three-day national congress of the Association under the theme "Facing the Future-Oral Health Care in Ghana" to enable members assess the role the Dentist and how to improve the oral health in the country.

Dr Adadevoh noted that even though oral disease in country was high there was no epidemiological data and survey to determine the magnitude. She said the problems of the Association included the absence of a policy and strategy to work with, inadequate resources, lack of oral health training facilities and health financing, which impede their ability to deliver.

"Oral health policy with emphasis on oral health education, information, communication, infection prevention and control are what we need to support and promote the oral health of the people". She called for a national survey to determine the magnitude of oral health, an oral health policy and finance and research into prevailing oral health needs. Dr Adadevoh recommended regular oral health education in schools and communities.

The chair side clinics should be encouraged whilst dentists undergo periodic trainings to update their knowledge and skills on the prevention and promotion of oral health.

Dr Kweku Afriyie, Minister of Health in a speech read on his behalf expressed regret that oral health services had experienced slow expansion over the years resulting in a very low coverage. The minister explained that there were only 54 government facilities located at regional capitals and some districts with 32 private dental clinics, 25 of them in Accra, Tema, Kumasi, Takoradi, Cape Coast and Sokagakpe. "It is evident from the distribution that the few public and private dental clinics in the country is sited in favour of the urban areas and only a few are in the districts where majority of population need the services".

Dr Afriyie said the government was establishing 22 dental facilities in some districts throughout the country with support from the Dutch government to improve the coverage. There are currently 120 dental surgeons including 26 dental specialists in the country, he said adding that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation, the dentist/ population ratio should be 1:120,000 for developing countries with low levels of tooth decay and moderate to severe levels of gum diseases. "It is sad to note that Ghana's dentists/population ratio is 1:160,000 which is low compared to the recommendation given by WHO", the Health Minister added.

Dr Afriyie assured the Association that all regions, districts and the private sector would get a fair share of the equipment maintenance programme of the Ministry to strengthen the service. Professor Agyeman Badu-Akosa, Director-General of Ghana Health Service in a speech read for him, expressed concern about the attitude of some dentists who work in public hospitals but use their time for private work. He said it had come to his notice that others also charge illegal fees and described the action as unethical.

"This is well known to us and we know we can not develop oral health services in the public sector with such negative practices. If we decide to be in the public sector, we should work for the public good", he added. Mr Julius Agenmonmen, Marketing Manager of UNILIVER, urged parents to inculcate into their children the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day to prevent infection and to discourage the consumption of sweets. June 25, 04

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