Ten thousand school going children are set to benefit from free dental screening and treatment, courtesy of an ambitious oral health programme rolled out by Mars Wrigley Confectionery and the Kenya Dental Association (KDA).
The programme, which is funded to the tune of Sh13.7 million by Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s Oral Health Community Service Grant, will cover Kajiado, Machakos and Meru Counties.
This marks the second phase of the programme, following the successful completion of the first phase last year which was inaugurated by Nairobi Senator, Hon Johnson Sakaja and reached about ten thousand children in Nairobi, Murang’a and Nakuru counties.
On completion of phase two which kicked off in Kajiado County, a total of 20,000 children across six counties will have benefited in two years.
The dental clinics not only focus on screening and treatment, but also on imparting knowledge on oral health, including basic oral hygiene practices such as brushing twice daily and not sharing toothbrushes.
Commenting on the second phase of the programme, Dr. Andrew Wetende, Chairman KDA said: “In several regions, poor oral hygiene remains one of the leading cause of school absenteeism, with children who experience dental pain missing school and performing poorly academically. Yet, simple and cost-effective preventive oral health strategies are crucial for avoiding costly cures.”
“Due to the unequal distribution of oral health personnel and the lack of appropriate and functional facilities within the primary health care system across the country, many people have limited or no access to appropriate oral health care services and thus there is need for continuous awareness creation on effective dental self-care,” he explained.
On her part, Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s Corporate Affairs Director for Africa Ms. Wanja Mwangi said: “For the second year running, The Wrigley Company Foundation has remained strongly committed to this programme. As an organization, we are not only keen on replenishing smiles but also creating a lasting impact on the communities we live with.”
In addition to undertaking basic procedures likes simple fillings, fluoride therapy, fissure sealants and extractions among others, the programme will also be referring complex cases to nearby public dental facilities.
Kenya experiences a high oral health disease burden as indicated in the Kenya National Oral Health Survey (KNOHS) 2015 results. 43.6% of five-year-old children had experienced dental caries. These children had a dmft of 1.87 meaning each child had an average of two decayed teeth; while 18.9% of children sampled reported missing school due to a tooth related problem. 27.8% avoided smiling because they were embarrassed by their teeth.
Wrigley has been committed to improving oral health for more than twenty years. and partners with dental professionals, supports scientific research and collaborates with governments, organizations and corporate partners to make a difference to oral health worldwide.