Malawi, which has one of the highest dentist-population ratios in the world, has been hit by a shortage of dentists, currently the country has 36 dentists, most of whom do not work in public sector, a senior government official has bemoaned.
A deputy director in the ministry of Health Dr. Kaponda Masiye says most of the medical officers who work as dentists are what he called dental therapists.
“We need dentists or dental surgeons in Malawi to serve Malawians better,” he said.
The less than 50 qualified dentists are wokring against a growing population currently estimated at 18 million.
Dental services in private hospitals, where most of the dentists or dental surgeons, are very expensive, beyond the reach of most Malawians who live in abject poverty with less than one dollar a day.
The situation is worrisome and Kaponda said there is need for urgent measures to address the problem.
Meanwhile, Malawi is set to open its first-ever dental school to train dentists, courtesy of the Scottish Government through the University of Glasgow.
University of Malawi College of Medicine (CoM) Principal Dr Mwapasa Mipando said have been developing the curriculum and have already bought part of the equipment for the school.
He said: “Actual training of dentists is going to start next year with initial enrolment of 15 students.”
Mipando said the school would increase the number of dentists and improve provision of dental care services in the country.
Oral health experts also cite that poor diet and poor oral hygiene are risk factors for oral diseases which, they add, are closely linked to cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and respiratory diseases, the four major chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :