Examining the Oral Health of Filipinos: Policy Analysis
Background. High prevalence of oral health problems persists across all age groups among Filipinos despite the continued endeavors of the government and professional societies. This position statement aimed to generate consensus policy recommendations to protect and promote oral health in the Philippines as an integral part of the healthcare service in light of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.
Methods. An evidence-based policy brief and presentations of dental and policy experts were used as discussion points in the roundtable discussion conducted by the UP Manila Health Policy Development Hub. Key stakeholders from various sectors were convened to generate inputs for policy actions and amendments to oral health related policies.
Results. Thematic analysis of the discussion was organized using the WHO Building Blocks of Health Systems, which yielded practical, accessible, and population-wide interventions (2010). The following issues were highlighted: (a) health service delivery needs strong collaboration of LGUs; (b) insufficient workforce of dental professionals; (c) market availability of sufficiently fluoridated toothpaste per age group; and (d) health financing scheme on oral health services.
Conclusion and Recommendations. With the shift in the health system landscape brought by the UHC Act, timely and responsive inter-sectoral interventions, focusing on prevention, must be set to attain the target decrease in the prevalence of dental caries. It was also to recommend to (i) engage the academe and training institutions to increase the workforce, (ii) consider adopting international standards on sugar consumption as appropriate, and (iii) ensure sufficient funds for sustainability of oral health programs, particularly school-based caries prevention program starting in pre-schools.