By Lexi Elo
Speaking at this year’s World Oral Health Day, Khaliru Alhassan, minister of health said that the mouth is the gateway and mirror to the body hence Nigerians must take a paradigm shift from limiting dentistry to only the treatment of diseased teeth and care of the mouth.
The minister noted that the Federal Ministry of Health is pleased to collaborate with relevant stakeholders including Unilever Nigeria to integrate oral health into primary healthcare in Nigeria.
“I am particularly pleased with today’s event which showcases the dividends of stakeholders’ participation and has put Nigeria on the world map through the smile pledge taken by about 1500 kids to brush day and night aimed at a cavity free Nigeria,” the minister added
Robbert deVreede, vice president Marketing, Unilever Nigeria said that Unilever feels the responsibility of being the number one oral care manufacturer in Nigeria.
“We want to give something back to the Nigerian Public. We have set a global ambition to reach 100 million children by 2020 and 10 million of them is coming from Nigeria. In effect, the number we aiming to reach in Nigeria is the largest in Africa. We see the terrible picture if we don’t care for our mouth. So it is a step in the right direction that 1,500 children gathered today to pledge to brush day and night. We know that children have the future and can act as change agents to make their parents brush day and night. By the end of 2015, we would have reached one million children in Nigeria”
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He continued “it’s our ambition to get 10 million people brushing day and night by 2020 in Nigeria. As one of the market leaders in oral health care products, our school programmes empower children and their parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve good oral health for life, through education and behaviour change initiatives. The programme is tailored in such a way that children not only learn how to brush properly but also why it’s so important – information which they can then share with the rest of their family.”
Olabode Ijarogbe, President, Nigerian Dental Association noted that the theme for this year ‘Smile For Life’ is aimed at wishing everybody lifelong healthy smiles at all ages adding that the theme has a double meaning, ‘lifelong smile’ and ‘celebrating life.’
Ijarogbe said the WOHD is important because 90 per cent of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime, many of which can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes. The event was organised by Pepsodent, in partnership with the Federal Government and the Nigerian Dental Association
Although not always life-threatening, oral diseases represent a major public health problem due to their high prevalence and significant impact on general health. Though reliable data are scarce, oral diseases seem to be on the rise in the African Region, including Nigeria with gum complications seen as becoming more common, especially in older people.