Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Unilever Creates Support for Oral Health Policy

In line with approval by the National Council on Health for establishment of standard operational guidelines for medical check-ups that would include dental records alongside other relevant medical data, multinational service provider, Unilever Nigeria Plc is developing new technologies to promote and protect oral hygiene of Nigerians.

Dropping the hint last week, Managing Director, Unilever Nigeria Plc, Mr. Thabo Mabe said the company would soon unveil its latest innovative technique which focuses on integrated public health education and behavioural change programme aimed at driving improved oral health and hand hygiene and nutrition among school aged children in Nigeria.

"We shall be doing this through creating more techniques in terms of creating radio stations and creating reading cultures; this because we have got lots of competitions that are thriving in schools to make sure that not only do they drive the passion for the habit of brushing day and night but it gives an opportunity to see this working", he stated.

The new oral health policy developed by the Federal Ministry of Health and other stakeholders, is aimed towards providing a solid foundation for building an health system that provides efficient, effective, accessible and affordable healthcare for Nigerians and service providers and stakeholders have been urged to pay attention to oral health - the gateway and mirror of the whole body.

A review of the standards of medical checks in the country arose in the aftermath of the Dana air crash in which only victims with verifiable dental records could be readily identified. Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu had observed during the launch of the new oral health policy that none of the Nigerian victims could be identified through dental records.

Thabo said the new policy "reflects the meeting of the collective yearnings of all key stakeholders in the oral health community in the Nigeria for the highest policy commitment to frontally address the emerging oral health needs.

He said Unilever would continue to partner with the Federal government and the Nigerian Dental Association in setting up more mobile fields/clinics to really drive the habits and to drive the whole idea behind the policy.

In his keynote address titled: Nigerian Oral Health System, Smiling Horizon, former President of the Nigerian Dental Association, Col (Rtd) Olujimi Osisanya, said previously there was no sustainable level of oral care in the country due to low level of awareness, paucity of manpower (4300 dentists to 160 million Nigerians), misconception and poor budgetary allocation among others.

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