Accra, Feb. 25, GNA- The premier batch of nine out of 10 locally trained Dental Technicians have received Diploma certificates for successfully completing a three-year training programme in Dental Technology at the University Of Ghana Dental School. The nine graduands had also been given full accreditation to operate and would be immediately posted to some of the various health facilities and clinics to augment the provision of quality dental and oral care in the country.
Dr David Oppong Mensah, Chief Dental Officer of the University of Ghana Dental School, at the graduation ceremony in Accra said there were currently an acute shortage of all categories of oral health personnel, including Dentists and Dental Nurses in the country.
He stated that there were currently only 130 Dental Surgeons in the country, bringing the current dentist population ration to 1:150,000, which was far below Ghana's target of 250 Dentists.
"We need to bridge the gap to bring the ratio down to about 1:80,000, a gap of about 120 dentists," he said He noted the need for oral health personnel was growing as Ghana's population gets older and the poor state of dental facilities in the various health facilities can not satisfy the high demand for the required services.
Dr Oppong Mensah also said there were only 10 Ghanaian trained Dental Technicians in Ghana and two other private foreigners who were based in Accra.
"There are 41 public Dental Clinics nation-wide and ideally every clinic should have a dental Technologist and Technician, but as at now only six of these public clinics have such services, making oral health elusive to many, especially those in the rural areas," he said.
Dr. Oppong Mensah further mentioned that the quality of dental laboratory services was currently poor and sub-standard and called on government to refurbish and provide the needed working environment in dental facilities to help retain dental professionals.
Dr. Nii Otoo Nartey, Dean of the Dental School, said due to limited resources, Ghana had to fall on Togo for a large number its dental laboratory services.
He said the first batch of the new Dental Technology Programme started in November 2002 with an intake of 10 students, but ended in November 2005 with only nine students passing their exams. He said programme would help produce more and better trained Dental Technicians to improve coverage and services and further save the nation money being paid to Togo for Dental laboratory services. Dr Gladys Norley Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health, said the Ministry was keen in ensuring quality oral health, as incorporated in its paradigm shift and suggested the promotion of oral health in both schools and in the communities by dental technicians.
She mentioned that the Ministry in collaboration with ENRAF (an Organisation based in the Netherlands) would, from April this year begin a project to provide a total of 21 fully equipped Dental facilities in the country.
She also said efforts were being made to equip all the 10 regional and district hospitals which had dental facilities with dental laboratories, adding that all future new district hospitals would have dental departments with equipped laboratories to ensure a sustained programme.
Dr Norley Ashitey stressed the need for the newly trained professionals to be more focused, disciplined, hardworking, and submissive to learn more from their colleagues who had been on the field and further abide by the ethics of their profession. Dr Frank King, Dental Consultant and the Programme Coordinator, hoped the new programme would help eliminate quack practitioners who had brought pain and untold hardships to many innocent citizens. He thanked the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Services and the University of Ghana Medical School, for their support for the programme and called for stakeholder partnership to ensure a sustained programme.