Kerala’s dental health initiatives draw praise at national review

The State’s dental health programmes — Mandahasam, Punchiri, Velicham and Deeptham — are worthy of emulation by other States, it was noted at the review

March 14, 2024 08:35 pm | Updated March 18, 2024 06:03 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala’s dental health programmes have won accolades at the National Oral Health Programme’s national-level review, conducted by the Union Health Ministry and the Centre for Dental Education and Research at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, a statement issued by the office of Health Minister Veena George said here.

Kerala has been ushering in many changes in the area of dental care and the State’s dental health programmes — Mandahasam, Punchiri, Velicham and Deeptham — are worthy of emulation by other States, it was noted. The States of Tamil Nadu and Arunachal Pradesh and the Union Territories of Puducherry and Lakshadweep have chosen these programmes to be included in their oral health programmes.

The appreciation won by the State is the reward and recognition for the importance given by the State to the dental health sector, the statement said.

Many dental labs

Dental healthcare is available in Kerala from selected family health centres to medical colleges. Dental units are being set up in all taluk hospitals. Apart from the labs in dental colleges in the State, 57 acrylic labs which can manufacture dentures and a dental ceramic lab which can manufacture dentures which can be affixed permanently have also been established. No other State in the country has as many dental labs, the statement said.

The dental care schemes promoted by the State include Mandahasam, wherein those in the BPL category above 60 years are given dentures for free. In the past three years, 7,012 senior citizens were provided free dentures.

For children

Under Punchiri scheme, schoolchildren in the 6-16 year age group are ensured comprehensive dental care. In 2023, 1.32 lakh schoolchildren were provided total dental care. Velicham scheme ensures free oral cancer screening and treatment for migrant workers, the elderly in coastal areas and those in the tribal belt. Under this scheme, 545 persons were diagnosed and are being treated for oral cancer, while 4,682 persons diagnosed with pre-cancerous oral lesions are also receiving treatment.

Deeptham scheme provides comprehensive dental care to differently abled children. In 2023, 617 beneficiaries were given dental care under this scheme, the statement said.

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