Supreme Council of Health (SCH) announced yesterday a dental screening will be made compulsory for children’s admission to kindergarten from the next academic year.
According to SCH Public Health department director Dr Mohamed al-Thani, plans are afoot to review the current and future status of dental clinics in Primary Healthcare Centres across the country as major expansions are being planned.
He was speaking at a press conference organised to announce the findings of the oral health survey, which was conducted in accordance with the standards adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 316 government and private schools in the country.
The survey was aimed to find the status of oral and dental health in the country.
The survey shows that the percent of caries in children is very high, with seven out of 10 children aged six affected by it.
More than 50 percent of those surveyed were found to be affected by caries. The problem was also found to be more prevalent among Qatari kids compared with non-Qataris.
Children, aged four years, seeking admission to kindergartens in Qatar are already expected to have completed their immunisation schedule, have their eyes and ears checked as well as get certified fit to start school.
Dr Mohamed bin Hamad Al Thani, SCH Public Health Director, said that a sample of 3,248 out of 4,200 students aged six, 12 and 15 in government and private schools was selected to be included in the survey, which had a response rate of 81 percent.
“We are preparing the grounds for the National Oral Health Strategy which we hope to launch very soon. But with the findings of this survey, we hope to educate families on how to take care of their young children’s dental health before they start schooling,” Al Thani said.
He maintained that emphasis would be on preventive measures rather than curative as parents would be encouraged to ensure their children were getting adequate levels of flouride daily, either through drinking fluoride-fortified water or by oral application of fluoride to the children’s gum twice a year.
“We are going to ensure the implementation of oral screening for children before they start school and we will like to caution parents to reduce their children’s sugar or sweets intake to further prevent gum or tooth decay,” he added.
He said that a sample of 3,248 out of 4,200 students aged six, 12 and 15 years, in some 316 government and private schools, was selected to be covered during the survey, with a response rate of 81%.
The decision to include dental health in pre-school medical check-up was part of efforts to meet two different goals set by the WHO, he said.
Dr Al Thani said that as per the goals set by WHO, at least 50 percent of children aged six have to be free from caries and the rate of prevalence of caries to be no more than three among children aged 12.
He said that the survey showed that Qatar still has to achieve the first goal as only 30 percent of children aged six are free from caries in the country.
Sheikha al-Anoud al-Thani asserted that the survey was important as it contributed to achieving the National Health Strategy objectives as well as creating an accurate database .
Dr Mohamed al-Thani applauded the efforts of the entities who took part in the survey: the SCH, Supreme Education Council, Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, Hamad Medical Corporation, Primary Healthcare Corporation, in close co-operation with WHO and its Centre for Studies at Copenhagen University.
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