Promoting Oral Health in Africa
Prevention and control of oral diseases and noma as part of essential noncommunicable disease interventions
Every day, across Africa, people seek relief from pain or discomfort that affects their ability to speak, to eat and to participate in all the routines of normal life. In many cases they can be helped with essential, cost-effective interventions; without such interventions millions of people will continue to suffer needlessly and in some cases die. Promoting Oral Health in Africa is the response by the WHO Regional Office for Africa to requests from across the Region’s 47 countries for a reference manual to help prevent and manage oral diseases at the primary health care level. It provides clear, straightforward guidance to health care workers, communities and decision-makers on how to tackle such diseases. As well as the most frequently presenting conditions, such as tooth decay and gum disease, the manual also addresses noma, a “hidden disease” that causes death and severe disfigurement.
This manual aims at the prevention of oral diseases and promotion of good oral health. It emphasizes the fact that improving oral health is an integral part of the essential package of interventions against noncommunicable diseases at the primary health care level. Promoting Oral Health in Africa proposes a Basic Package of Oral Care, and includes a set of 10 protocols written specially for primary health care staff to aid in diagnosing and treating specific oral diseases. It also presents the overall rationale for health initiatives within school and community settings, and recommends a set of integrated activities at both levels. Promoting Oral Health in Africa was developed with the participation of experts from the WHO African Region and beyond. The lessons learnt during implementation of the guidance contained in the manual will be used to inform regular updates, ensuring that the manual continues to respond to the needs of African people and fulfil its goal of re-energizing national and local efforts to improve their oral health.