Appeals to FG for palliatives, grants
By Chioma Obinna
The Nigerian Dental Association, NDA, has raised the alarm that over 80 per cent of private dental clinics have shut down due to their inability to procure the requisite safety kits due to the Coronavirus disease outbreak even as it appealed to the Federal Government to provide Basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all private and public dental facilities to enable practitioners to sustain the delivery of emergency dental services to Nigerians as well as prevent the spread of Coronavirus disease through such procedures.
The President of NDA, Dr. Evelyn Eshikena, who stated this in a statement made available to Vanguard in Lagos said with near-total collapse of dental care nationwide, dental patients are unable to access the few operational private and public dental while dental clinics are faced with the precarious economic situation that could lead to permanent closure or downsizing of the dental workforce resulting in job losses for practitioners if the pandemic is not contained quickly.
“The global community is in turmoil and Nigeria is not left out of this desperate bid to contain the ravaging virus, especially with the recent trend of frightening statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
However, this fight becomes lopsided and portends grave danger to our people, if an integrated approach is not adopted. “
She stressed the need for the Federal Government to adopt an approach that would ensure that emphasises are not only placed on coronavirus and respiratory/infectious disease experts, but also on other specialties including areas of healthcare needs and ailments ravaging the populace.
“For instance, an asymptomatic patient can present to a dental clinic with a dental emergency such as severe toothache, trauma to oro-facial structures, bleeding, abscesses/facial space infections, Temporomandibular Joint dislocation, head and neck malignancies failed or broken dental restorations, orthodontic emergencies, etc. Unsuspecting dental practitioners, attending to such individuals with no signs, symptoms, or relevant history of coronavirus infection, are dangerously exposed to hazards and become effective means of further spread of the virus.”
While commending stakeholders in the fight against the disease, the NDA called on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, State Governments; especially Lagos State where over 50 per cent of the nation’s dental facilities are located, to urgently come to the aid of dental healthcare professionals.
“The governments should come to our aid by providing the Basic PPE to all dental facilities to enable practitioners to sustain the delivery of emergency dental services to our people and prevent the spread of Coronavirus through such procedures.
“Supply to all private and public dental clinics other relevant items like infrared thermometers, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, liquid hand wash, gloves, face mask, face shield, and essential dental equipment and consumables like dental hand-pieces with anti-retraction valves, micro-motors, high-volume saliva ejectors, rubber dam, etc.
“Protective items for private dental clinics can be channeled through the NDA and Association of Private Dental Practitioners of Nigeria (APDPN), while government at all levels can supply directly to public dental facilities through the ministry of health,” she stated.
The NDA also urged the government to improve hazard allowance and suspend tax deductions, to enhance welfare packages and approve life insurance policy for all categories of healthcare providers.
Eshikena further appealed to the government at all levels to extend the stimulus packages, grants, and palliatives to private dental practitioners whose dental clinics have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The urgent need for government intervention has become inevitable, as the nation cannot afford further depletion of the already inadequate dental care facilities available for our teeming population.”
Eshikena further commended frontline health workers who are rendering humanitarian services at the various isolation centres, encouraging that them to win the battle against the pandemic.