Experts Urge Govt to Incorporate Orthodontic Care into PHCs, NHIS

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  • .Says Nigeria has less than 50 orthodontists

Martins Ifijeh

The National Association of Orthodontists (NAO) has called on the federal government to incorporate orthodontic care into the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) and the National Health Insurance Scheme in the country.

Speaking during the commemoration of the World Orthodontic Day in Lagos recently, the Secretary, NAO, Dr. Toluwalase Yemitan said the incorporation was necessary so that Nigerians will no longer be denied access to effective orthodontic care due to the financial expenses associated with it.
She said one of the issues was that many people have a wrong idea that orthodontic care is only aesthetic, hence no need to give it priority it really deserves.

”Part of our awareness is to let people understand the importance of orthodontic care. Everybody thinks even if they want to spend money it should be on something else rather than on their teeth. But imagine you have problem with one, it can disturb you for the whole day that you will lose much more than the money you ought to have spent to solve the little problem.

“If orthodontics is incorporated into our primary health system and NHIS, it will make the people know that orthodontics is an essential part of healthcare. It is not only an aesthetic care, but integral to human function.

The Treasurer of the Association, Dr. Adeola Asade noted that the teeth was an essential part of the body, adding that Nigerians should take that part of their body seriously.

On his part, the President, NOA, Dr. Babatunde Ogunbanjo said even though Nigeria has over 170 million persons, the country can only boast of less than 50 competent orthodontists.
“We cry that doctor to citizen ratio in the country is alarming (300,000 to one doctor), same thing with dentist to citizen ratio (600,000 -800,000 citizens to one dentist). But orthodontists’ ratio is worse. We only have 40 for our 170 million persons.

“With its inclusion in PHC and NHIS, the specialty can be easily accessible and affordable,” he said.

Nothing that there was no age limit to orthodontic care, he said the specialty addresses function, aesthetics and speech.