Experts seek inclusion of orthodontic care in NHIS, PHCs

2017.05.23

By Chioma Obinna

On this year’s World Orthodontic Heath Day, medical experts have called on the Federal Government to include orthodontic care among medical treatment covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS as well as at the Primary HealthCare levels.

The experts under the auspices of the Nigerian Association of Orthodontists,NAO, have also embarked on a weeklong awareness campaign on the need for people to get prompt and accurate orthodontic care.

At a press conference to kick start the week in Lagos, the Secretary of the Association, Dr. Mrs. Toluwalase Yemitan observed that inclusion of the orthodontic care in the NHIS and PHCs would not only guarantee access to care but affordability.

Yemitan however, revealed that the high cost of orthodontic services has been discouraging and denying people access to effective orthodontic care.

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She gave instances that many people believed that orthodontic care is just for aesthetic and so has proven nonchalant until urgent attention is needed.

“Part of our awareness is to let people understand the importance of health. Everybody think even if they want to spend money it should be on something else rather than on their teeth. But imagine you have problems with one, it can disturb you for the whole day that you will lose much more than the money you ought to have spent to solve the little problem.

“Another way to help people is for government to incorporate Orthodontist care into primary healthcare. If at that primary level orthodontist is incorporated, then it will be cheaper for patients. And if it is incorporated into NHIS, it will be better as it will help patents to see orthodontic care as essential treatment. Orthodontic should not only be seen as something aesthetics but also for functioning because you need confidence in every aspect of life.

“The world orthodontist day is organised by the World Federation of Orthodontist for the first time and 15th of May every year has been set aside all over the world for orthodontists to come together to celebrate the orthodontic World Health Day as part of ways to creating awareness about the profession and help people to understand that orthodontic is part of health and health is wealth”, she said.

Also speaking, the National President of the Association, Dr. Babatunde Ogunbanjo who lamented shortage of orthodontists in the country observed that despite Nigeria having a population of over 170million, the country can only boast of less than 50 competent orthodontists.

“We have more medical doctors than we have dental surgeons and orthodontists. The doctor’s ratio in Nigeria is alarming that is about 300,000, dentist ratio is about 600,000 to 800,000 and we only have about 40 orthodontists to cover 170 million population, unfortunately, it’s not only the orthodontist alone but to all health professionals.

“We want to create this awareness not only in the urban areas but the rural areas and that is why we are saying that orthodontic care should be made available at the PHC and NHIS so that it can be easily accessible and affordable.

“I will say orthodontic care addresses three main areas which are; function, aesthetics and speech.  Orthodontic is not really about looks but rather about function, speech and aesthetics. If you have a lot of gap in your teeth your will be shy to pronounce some words.

“There is no age limit to orthodontic care. I always tell my patients that for as long as you have teeth in your mouth, you are still liable to orthodontic treatment” he said.