Oral disease continues to be a serious public health problem in the Philippines. The prevalence of dental caries on permanent teeth has generally remained above 90% throughout the years. About 92.4% of Filipinos have tooth decay (dental caries) and 78% have gum diseases (periodontal diseases) (DOH, NMEDS 1998). Although preventable, these diseases affect almost every Filipino at one point or another in his or her lifetime.
The oral health status of Filipino children is alarming. The 2006 National Oral Health Survey (2006) investigated the oral health status of Philippine public elementary school students. It revealed that 97.1% of six-year-old children suffer from tooth decay. More than four out of every five children of this subgroup manifested symptoms of dentinogenic infection. In addition, 78.4% of twelve-year-old children suffer from dental caries and 49.7% of the same age group manifested symptoms of dentinogenic infections. Simply stated, problems related to dental health needed immediate attention.
Relative to this, the Department of Education issued the Implementing Guidelines on the Comprehensive Oral Health Program of the DepEd as contained in DepEd Order No. 33 s. of 2019. Through the Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Health Division, DepEd will implement a comprehensive oral health program for elementary and high school students in public starting this School Year (SY) 2019-2020 and the subsequent school years in an effort to “concretize directions in oral health services.”
According to our DepEd secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones, “Oral health is essential to good health and general well-being,” “It has important implication not only for physical health but also for one’s social life, emotional health and the viability of one’s career and personal goals,” that is why the newly-issued policy will “uphold the right of learners to basic oral health services.” Likewise, it aims to further improve the oral hygiene knowledge and practices to “reduce the incidence of dental caries among learners through effective dental health service delivery and preventive track of effectively controlling risk behaviors related to diet, hygiene, nutrition, smoking and substance abuse in promoting good oral health and disease prevention.”
The set of guidelines also focuses on engaging the active participation of learners in daily tooth brushing activities; upgrading dental personnel’s competencies; updating oral health records; intensifying advocacy among learners and personnel and to maximize the opportunities for an enhanced implementation of oral health program through close collaboration with various partners and stakeholders.
Cognizant to the passion of our DepEd secretary, The Department of Education, in the Division of Malaybalay City remain steadfast in its commitment to deliver quality, equitable and complete basic education. Concomitant to this vision is our desire to deliver holistic development for all not only on the matters concerning academic performance but also mental and physical health. That is why, we, as one family, united behind the more than 25 million public school learners all around the nation fully supports the implementation of the Comprehensive Oral Health Program of the Department of Education.
Rio G. Arbutante
EPS II Soc. Mob. and Networking