In celebration of the National Oral Health Month last February, the Department of Health (DOH) together with the University of the Philippines College of Public Health (UP-CPH), Philippine Dental Association (PDA), and Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (J&J Philippines), conducted a forum entitled Sama-sama, Tulong-tulong para sa Orally Fit Pinoy to educate the public about the value of maintaining good oral health while preventing diseases linked to it, including COVID-19 infection.
“We emphasize the significance of oral and dental care during the month of February, but we wish it is given the same attention all year round as it is really one of the most overlooked aspects of overall health,” said the dean and centre director of UP-CPH, Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr.
Oral health is a gateway to overall health and well-being. It is essential in improving one’s quality of life because the oral cavity is the main passage of food, water, and air, making it one area of the body that houses millions of microorganisms.
“Oral health can be considered as the first line of defense to reduce the burden of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, and low birth weight among others. Thus, its importance is emphasized in both the Universal Health Care Act and the World Health Organization’s Assembly Resolution of May 2021,” said the director of DOH’s Health and Promotion Bureau and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, Dr. Beverly Ho.
The Universal Health Care Act reaffirms that oral health is part of the entitlement of every Filipino and ensures that each person is guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care goods and services while being protected against financial risk. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s Assembly Resolution urges member states to address key risk factors of oral diseases shared with other non-communicable diseases to enhance the capabilities of oral health professionals and recommended a shift from the traditional curative approach to a preventive approach using the primary healthcare system.
According to the president of PDA, Dr. Jose Militante: “Creating programs that will generate greater public awareness on oral health is easy. The bigger challenge is on health delivery during the implementation of these programs. However, this will not hinder us and our partner organizations in continuously innovating our programs and approach in promoting the importance of oral health.”
“There are also simple yet effective dental care interventions that can easily be done to help improve one’s overall health. These include brushing of the teeth at least twice a day, interdental cleaning through flossing, gargling with oral care products that contain antimicrobial agents, maintaining a healthy diet, and regular dental checkups at least every six months,” added the project leader and chair of UP-CPH’s Department of Medical Microbiology, Dr. Maria Margarita Lota.
J&J seeks to widen its advocacy footprint
J&J Philippines has been at the forefront of inter-sectoral collaboration, working alongside government agencies and other stakeholders to promote oral health as primary care. Following a successful collaboration last year, the company continues to partner with DOH, UP-CPH, and PDA in making every Filipino an Orally Fit Pinoy.
One of the leading healthcare companies, represented by its head of Medical Affairs, Dr. Erwin Benedicto has been an active participant and contributor in several discussions on the importance and continued evolution of oral health.
He said: “Our involvement began with the company’s COVID-19 advocacy which also focused on educating the public on how they can improve their personal well-being through better oral health. Together with DOH and our other partners, we are making oral health a priority for every Filipino family.”
“We are always happy to participate in discussions related to oral health as we believe that these will help lead to better, more relevant, and timely programs on the treatment and prevention of oral health problems both locally and beyond our borders.”