East African Associations Update

Recently we received the following update on the progress made by the Kenya Association of Paediatric Dentists and the Paediatric Dentistry Association of East Africa.

On the 12th July the Kenya Association of Paediatric Dentists (KAPD) held in Nairobi it’s fourth annual the Workshop for Community Oral health Officers (COHOs). The workshop theme was “Towards greater emphasis on the oral soft tissues of children”. The main objective was to equip the COHOs with improved knowledge and skills in the diagnosis of oral soft tissue diseases in children. 

Topics covered during the workshop included oral infections, oral manifestations of HIV-infect, evaluation of nutritional status of children and improving inter-disciplinary communication and referrals by COHOS. The workshop attendees were drawn from 24 out of the 47 Counties in Kenya. Eight paediatric dentists participated in the Workshop, as well as the Government Chief Dental Officer. Pictured opposite. 

The training of COHOs in caring for the oral health of children is one of the KAPD’s flagship programmes. In the past 4 years over 100 COHOs have gone through the programme.KAPD believes this training will help the COHOs reach many rural children and their parents and disseminate more oral health information to them, while at the same time, improving their clinical approach to oral health care of children. 

The positive feedback received from the programme attendees demonstrates that the Workshops have been useful in widening the working scope for this cadre of oral health providers. All the COHOs who participated in the Workshops are employed by the Counties to work at the grass roots with local communities, and a few are employed by Religious Organisations involved in the provision Oral health to the public. In Kenya, the child population, particularly those below 15 years of age, represents approximately 65% of the population. Clearly the benefits to these children will be immense.

The workshop theme was a pertinent issue that all COHOs experience while providing oral health care for children in the rural areas of Kenya. Because of food insecurity in some parts of Kenya, the scourge of HIV in children and pathological conditions afflicting the majority of the rural child-population, it was clear that there was a need to educate and provide skills to COHOs on how to deal with these conditions within the communities in which they work.

Second Meeting of Paediatric Dentistry Association of East Africa (PDAEA)

On 13th July members of PDAEA held their second Annual meeting in Nairobi. The delegates came from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda. 

In his opening remarks Prof. Raman Bedi (pictured opposite) provided insight on the global situation of oral health of children, and the efforts various Countries are making to solve these problems. He gave the example of the “Seal Cambodia” campaign, explaining how it has changed the situation of dental caries in Cambodian children. He urged the East African region to look at various options to reduce dental caries in the children living in the region.

During the meeting several presentations were made by each of the delegates. The presentations were geared to obtaining consensus as to which direction the Association will direct its efforts in the area of oral health for children in the region. The discussions included capacity building for paediatric dentistry in East Africa, advocacy for oral health of children in East Africa, Collaborations with public and private institutions in improving oral health for children in East Africa region, and discussions for creating a strategic plan for PDAEA for the next 5 years. 

All the meeting’s themes were exhaustively discussed by the members present, and several suggestions agreed upon, including the development of a website and a strategic plan for the Association. Two groups were formed to begin work on the strategic plan and the Association Website, so that by February 2017, PDAEA would be having a Website running and a five-year strategic plan. 

It was also agreed that a partnership between GCDF and PDAEA through the Advanced Dental leadership programme should be encouraged by PDAEA members to improve their leadership acumen for its members and the larger dental community in the region, including dental students. This would form part of the training needed for expanding capacity in the area of Paediatric dentistry in the East Africa region. A programme on “Seal East Africa”, which will help reduce childhood dental caries in the region, was adopted by PDAEA. Through the support from potential partners this will become the Association’s flagship programme.