Vanatu - Mission Report on Oral Health

Mission Report on Oral Health in the Vanuatu
27 October - 3 November 1997
by Dr Wong Hee Deong

Objectives of mission:
The writer undertook this mission at the request of the Vanuatu Government to review the current oral health situation and to support the drafting of a five-year development plan.

Summary of activities, findings, conclusions and recommendations:
The writer and Dr Takemoa, the principal dental officer, visited three main centres for oral health to evaluate the current situation and the present operations in and from these centres. As a result of the three-and-a-half year acute shortage of oral health personnel, the situation was indeed bad. The staff situation had greatly improved in recent months but there was still a shortage of dental instruments and supplies, and only limited restorative treatment and denture service were provided in the centres alongside emergency services, comprising mainly extractions of teeth. With the lack of dental instruments and supplies and the lack of transportation in the Santo centre, the prevention-based school dental service and the oral health education activities have completely ceased. While complete recovery of emergency services would be possible, recovery of those aimed at preventing oral diseases and at preserving and maintaining the oral health of children would require Government to provide special funds and would take more time and effort. A five-year development plan for oral health has been drawn up with Dr Takemoa.

Recommendations include:

  • The draft five-year plan should be accepted and supported by the Government for early implementation.
  • Past activities should be redeveloped into a more efficient and cost-effective oral health care programme rather than merely restoring past activities.
  • Areas that should be looked into and upgraded include:
    • the standardization of dental instruments and supplies to reduce their inventory and eliminate slow-moving items and idle stocks;
    • purchasing and control of dental instruments and supplies;
    • designing of new treatment charts, forms and monitoring tools to facilitate collection of essential data for processing for better management and evaluation of programme activities; and
    • developing a systematic approach in the oral health service for schoolchildren without sacrificing quality and effectiveness.