Viet Nam - Mission report 1999 with recommendation for oral health training

Mission Report on Development and Implementation
of national oral health programme in Viet Nam
8 - 28 April 1999
by Dr Bian Jin-You


Objectives of mission:
In collaboration with the national counterpart in oral health, Ministry of Health, Viet Nam:

  • to train oral health workers in the prevention and treatment of dental caries, periodontal disease and oral mucosal diseases;
    to assess progress made on epidemiological data collection and monitoring of oral health; and
    to review and advice on development and implementation of the national oral health programme.

Summary of activities, findings, conclusions and recommendations:

The writer presented lectures at two workshops held in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and attended by 125 participants who are chief dental officers from 61 provinces of Viet Nam. Most of the participants were very positive about the workshop.

The author also has a chance to visit two provinces, two Institutes of Odonto-Stomatology and Maxillo Facial Surgery and 5 school-based oral health programmes, one in Hanoi and the other four in two provinces. The programmes are well developed in many primary schools especially those located in rural areas.

However, based on the data available from a national survey in 1990, the prevalence of dental caries and DMFT (decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth) at 12 years old is 57% and 1.8 (DMFT) and there is an increasing trend. It seems even higher in the Southern Vient Nam at 76% and 3 DMFT in same age. The situation for periodontal diseases is even more serious than for dental caries. The data show that the percentage of gingivitis and dental calculus (CPI1+CPI2) is 93.6% at 15 years old.

The shortage and the uneven distribution of dental manpower and the lack of financial support to develop the essential oral health care service for the majority of the population are still the major obstacles.

Recommendations include:

  • A national organization for dental public health should be established to assist the Ministry of Health in drafting a national plan for better oral health for the whole population in the 21st century, including goals, objectives and strategies and measures of implementation and evaluation.
  • A national campaign /or activity to promote public awareness of oral health should be considered. This would create a supportive social environment to improve the oral heath status of the population.
  • Oral health education and toothbrushing should be included not only in school-based oral health programmes but also in community dental health care.
  • The planned national oral health survey should include 5 or 6 year-old preschool children. The survey Questionnaire should be well designed.
  • The Ministry of Health should support and strengthen the existing dental public health teams for the school-based oral programme to improve their technical competence.