It is an honour for me to have been invited to officiate at this launch of the 13th World Oral Health Week commemoration. Botswana has for the past years, since inception of the World Oral Health Day (WOHD), joined the global community to commemorate this event in various districts under different themes; I wish to congratulate the Chobe District for now having joined other districts in hosting the event.
These commemorations Ladies and gentlemen, are important as they serve to give the oral health community a platform for collective action and to reflect on the growing need to prevent oral diseases and conditions in order to help our communities maintain a solid set of teeth for life. The theme for this year is ‘Say Aah: Act on Mouth Health’. In the local language, Chiikhuhane we say “Chite Aah, Chite chimwi cha mavuko a ka holo”. It calls on individuals to take appropriate action to safeguard their oral health. With this campaign, people are encouraged to take concrete actions to prevent oral disease and protect their overall health. This theme does not only focus on individuals but also on the oral health professionals as key personnel in the education and promotion of good oral health as well as prevention of oral diseases and conditions.
Director of Ceremonies, the World Oral Health Day encourages all stakeholders to work together to secure optimal oral health for all and commit to acting towards the attainment of a healthy mouth. It also serves to highlight the contribution of other sectors, and the critical role in making policies which influence good oral health.
Oral diseases are the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and affect people throughout their lifetime, causing pain, discomfort, disfigurement and even death. The 2016 Global Burden of Disease Study estimated that oral diseases affect half of the world’s population (3.58 billion people) with tooth decay and gum disease being the most prevalent conditions. Currently, facility data indicates that tooth decay affects 54.2% while gum disease affects 13% of clients who visit oral health facilities.
Bagaetsho, it is worth noting that oral diseases share modifiable risk factors with other NCDs, including tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets especially with high sugar content, as well as the same socio-economic determinants. It is therefore comforting to know that oral diseases are largely preventable. Early detection and treatment are also crucial in ensuring the best outcomes against these diseases, as well as other associated health complications.
Ladies and gentlemen, oral health diseases and other NCDs such as cardiovascular (heart) disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases do not exist in isolation from one another. Often, two or more NCDs manifest in the same individual, referred to as ‘NCD comorbidities’. NCD co-morbidities can occur because diseases share the same risk factors, or because some diseases predispose individuals to developing others. As a result, they can benefit from a common response. It is therefore essential to adopt a common risk factor approach and fully integrate oral health into NCD prevention and control as well as broader health strategies. With the growing burden of oral disease and NCDs worldwide, there is an urgent need for local, regional and national action.
The 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs recognizes NCDs as a global health priority with oral diseases specifically referenced as a major health burden. In response to this, WHO African region has led the way in developing the first regional oral health strategy for the prevention and control of oral diseases integrated with NCDs.
Botswana has also committed to address NCDs by recently launching a 5 year “Botswana Multi- Sectoral Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non – Communicable Diseases 2018-2023”. The support of oral health community, Community Based Organizations, health sector and other sectors in this endeavour is urgently needed for making a success story of this initiative of integrating oral health into NCDs.
As I draw towards conclusion ladies and gentlemen, I wish to encourage all of you to promote taking personal responsibility for one’s health by our citizenry. Allow me Director of Ceremonies allow me to challenge everyone to ‘act on mouth health’ by taking simple steps such as practicing good oral hygiene; eating a healthy diet particularly low in sugar; avoiding tobacco use and reducing alcohol consumption; as well as going for dental check-ups every six months.
I also wish to call on communities, stakeholders, private and government sectors as well as health professionals in general, to work collectively to support implementation of cost-effective interventions to address oral health problems. I also urge health professionals to include essential oral health care services as part of Universal Health Coverage initiatives to ensure that no one is left behind!
Lastly, let me thank you once again for this opportunity to be here and wish you ALL an interactive day as you make use of the health and other services brought to you today. With these few remarks, it is now my singular honour and privilege to officially launch the 2019 Oral health Week.
* KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS, Dr ALFRED MADIGELE AT THE ORAL HEALTH WEEK COMMEMORATION LAUNCH IN KAVIMBA VILLAGE, CHOBE DISTRICT.