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Friday, July 19, 2024

Mental patients prone to poor oral health

Story by Yolanda Moyo

THE Ministry of Health and Child Care has partnered local and international organisations in training medical practitioners who deal with mental health on basic dental care.

The increase in the number of people who abuse drugs and substances has resulted in poor oral health care.
To fill the gap, a local organisation in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care has embarked on a training programme for medical staff at public institutions on basic dental care.

“People with severe mental illness have poorer oral health compared to those without mental illness and untreated tooth decay is a common cause of non-psychiatric hospital admissions for this group.”

“These people face challenges in accessing basic dental care and we have embarked on a project to train medical staff at mental health institutions so that they become aware of the dental needs of people with mental illness. Out patients clients also are shy to go to dentist because of their condition so if these institutions are capacitated to handle dental care issues and procedures this will go a long away in fighting dental diseases among mental health patients,” said Oral Lung Axis Trust representative, Dr Cleopatra Matanhire.

Zimbabwe‘s move to address oral health care at mental health care institutions has been lauded by an international health policy advisor, Dr Julian Fisher.
“Zimbabwe has taken a huge step in combating dental and mental health because these two have a link.

Dental care is critical in anyone’s well-being. Mental health patients have limited finances, and difficulty in finding a dentist within a reasonable distance who would not drop them as a patient for missing appointments owing to their mental health. So with Zimbabwe taking this step it is a good initiative and l am going to take this to the inter nations forums because this has been said but no country is actually implementing it,” said Dr Fisher.

Provision of basic dental care at mental health institutions is set to be a stepping stone in the holistic approach of providing necessary needs for mental health patients.

“Mental health patients tend to be voiceless in terms of the needs they want and if there are organisations that are willing to provide basic need such as these we are certain that basic needs for mental health patients will be provided at centers without having to outsource them from other hospitals,” highlighted Ingutsheni Central Hospital Clinical Director, Dr Wellington Ranga.

The organisation Oral Lung Axis Trust is also conducting dental procedures at Ingutsheni with a dental unit set to be established at public mental health institutions across the country.

The first phase of the training programme was conducted at Parirenyatwa group of hospitals in Harare last week.

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