Ministry of Health chief of health services Queen Dube says Malawi has 49 dentists serving a population of about 18 million, translating to one dentist serving 419 000 people.
This scenario, she said, is way above the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended ratio of one dentist to 2 000 people.
Dube said: “Currently, Malawi has 49 practising dentists of which nine are practising within public facilities, representing 18 percent. The current dentist to population ratio is 1: 419 000 while World Health Organisation recommends a ratio of 1:2 000.”
She said the country has 93 dental therapists that are in public service while 53 are practising privately. She added that there are only two dental technologists.
Dube spoke over the weekend in Lilongwe during the launch of Oral Health Policy.
The event was graced by Deputy Minister of Health Enock Phale who said the policy will contribute towards provision of improved, quality, affordable and accessible oral and dental health services to all Malawians.
He said: “The policy will also guide in the expansion of the range and quality of oral and dental health services both curative and preventive and also promote and coordinate training and deployment of oral and dental health human resources.”
Meanwhile, the coordinator of Dental School Project at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (Kuhes), Dr. Peter Chimimba, has said that among other reasons, insufficient finances and training facilities have negatively affected the training of professionals in oral and dental health.
He said with proper planning, financing and execution of the plans, the country may be able to train sufficient professionals in the sector in the space of five to 10 years.