Monday, 15 April, 2024
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WHO warns of oral health crisis in South Africa

South Africa faces an oral health crisis, says the World Health Organisation, with millions suffering from tooth loss, oral cancer and tooth decay, especially children: 41% of one to nine-year-olds had untreated tooth decay; at least 28% of those five and over suffered from this in baby and permanent teeth; while nearly 25% of teenagers had severe gum disease in 2019.

TimesLIVE reports that the WHO’s inaugural report on the global burden of oral disease, released for World Oral Health Day this week, shows that worldwide, 3.5bn people out of about 8bn people are affected, equating to about 1bn more cases than all five major non-communicable diseases – cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and mental disorders – combined.

The report also shows that around 75% of people suffering from oral diseases live in low- and middle-income countries – and that South Africa had about 1 933 new cases of lip and oral cavity cancer in 2020.

The World Dental Federation (FDI), representing more than 1m dentists worldwide, has called for urgent action against oral disease, saying governments must ensure people with these issues have access to treatment.

“Oral diseases are among the biggest challenges in global health today and mainly affect the most disadvantaged people,” said Dr Khanyi Makwakwa, the South African Dental Association’s (Sada) and FDI national liaison officer.

In South Africa, there are 1.1 dentists per 10 000 people in 2019, below the global average of 3.28 per 10 000.


TimesLIVE article – Millions of South Africans at risk of serious diseases due to tooth decay and gum disease — report (Open access)


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