Today we met with representatives of the public oral health team in Gracias to develop a risk management program intended to improve oral health in school-aged children. The day began by engaging the local team in a dialogue in order to assess local needs of the community, the current state of oral health, and perceived barriers to care. The Honduran dentists identified the relationship between oral health and general health with an emphasis on oral infection and general infection being a common theme. The main barriers to care identified were access and resources. Once these were identified, they prioritized the issues and set specific goals that are measurable, attainable, realistic and timely for this community (“SMART”). With this in mind, the local oral health team created a pilot program whereby supervised tooth brushing will be implemented in primary schools. The “PUFA” oral health evaluative system, which identifies infection, was introduced to the public health team and was accepted with enthusiasm to help determine baseline and outcome impacts of any intervention. This system is best used in countries where decay rates are extremely high (90-99%). P-pulp involvement
The pilot program will involve 6 members of the oral health team working in different communities. In the next days, hands-on training will occur in the PUFA system and development of educational tools for teachers. Baseline measurements will be compared to future results after the tooth-brushing program is implemented.
We have committed to supply the materials needed to drive this program for 2 years. The mayor of Gracias, who is also a dentist, was an enthusiastic supporter of developing this pilot project and promoting Gracias as a model for affecting cost effective sustainable interventions to improve overall health.