Karnataka

Danta Bhagya develops ‘toothache’

Mandya Karnataka 02_January_2016 : Denture kit at the Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS) in Mandya. The Department of Health and Family Welfare has decided to organise mega camps across the State on January 8, 2016 to popularise the State Government’s ambitious programme ‘Danta Bhagya’ to provide free dentures to senior citizens with complete tooth loss

Mandya Karnataka 02_January_2016 : Denture kit at the Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS) in Mandya. The Department of Health and Family Welfare has decided to organise mega camps across the State on January 8, 2016 to popularise the State Government’s ambitious programme ‘Danta Bhagya’ to provide free dentures to senior citizens with complete tooth loss   | Photo Credit: B_MAHADEVA (Freelancer, No Bylin;B_MAHADEVA (Freelancer, No Bylin - MAHADEVA_B (No Byline Pls, Freel

Six years after it was launched, the State government’s ambitious ‘Danta Bhagya’ scheme has developed a “toothache”. While eleven of the 18 high-tech dental laboratories set up in district hospitals are not being put to use due to non-availability of dental lab technicians, awareness about the scheme has taken a backseat due to lack of funds for Information, Education and Communication (ICE) activities.

The scheme, launched to provide free dentures to senior citizens from BPL category with complete tooth loss, has barely reached 19,407 people since December 7, 2014, when it was launched.

According to the Health Department’s estimate, 16% of the State’s population (25.92 lakh) in the State are toothless and require dentures. The department has tied up with 45 private dental colleges to implement the scheme.

Although laboratories have been set up in 18 district hospitals, only five labs have permanent technicians and two others have outsourced manpower rendering the other laboratories useless. Due to this, officials in charge of oral health in the department had started conducting camps to screen and provide dentures to the needy. However, there was no adequate fund allocation for conducting the camps.

Lack of funds

Sources in the department revealed that a mere ₹10,000 was made available under National Health Mission to conduct each camp, while the requirement was more than ₹30,000. “We shifted to camp mode from April this year and conducted 114 camps so far. We are doing this with assistance from NGOs and organisations such as Lions’ Club and Rotary Club and local MLAs. People who come to the camps have to be provided food and transport, as it requires them to stay in the camp the whole day,” sources said.

Although the department has 31 sanctioned posts of dental lab technicians and 20 are working, 15 have been deputed in medical colleges run by the Medical Education Department. “The government should recruit more technicians or should send back the 15 from the Medical Education department to the Health Department,” sources pointed out.

Ganesh Panchmal Shenoy, former chairperson of the committee that drafted the State’s Oral Health Policy, said it was unfortunate that the government had not recruited lab technicians. “One good thing is that they have a dedicated Deputy Director for Oral Health from the last two years,” he said.

Although an annual allocation of ₹2 crore was made initially for the scheme, the fund was not utilised in the first two years and was diverted for other purposes. Subsequently, a mere ₹50 lakh was set aside annually for distribution of dentures. “We not only need more funds but also guidelines that will enable us to utilise them for IEC and camps,” a senior official said.

Admitting that the scheme needs to be revived, State Health Director Patil Om Prakash R. said the department will seek adequate allocation for ‘Danta Bhagya’ in the coming budget.

“We are also trying to bring back the lab technicians who are on deputation in the medical colleges. As there cannot be separate IEC activities for each scheme, we will create awareness through our common IEC programme,” he added.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 7:39:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/danta-bhagya-develops-toothache/article30463200.ece

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