Friday, 25 November 2016
Releasing the State Oral Health Plan 2016-2020 today, Health Minister John Day said it provided the first clear snapshot of the state of oral health in WA.
"Western Australia has the lowest prevalence of tooth decay in Australia, with 36.4 per cent of six-year-old children and 31.9 per cent of 12-year-olds experiencing tooth decay, compared with the national rates of 51 per cent and 45 per cent respectively," Mr Day said.
"But despite these results, the rates of poor oral health are unevenly distributed across the community, with children in the lowest socio-economic areas experiencing 50 to 70 per cent more tooth decay than children in the most advantaged areas.
"This plan provides us with a comprehensive road map, showing how we can better utilise existing resources to overcome these inequities."
The Minister said the plan highlighted a clear strategy to identify and respond to the gaps in oral health services across six foundation areas and four priority populations, including people living in regional and remote communities, Aboriginal groups, and those who were socially disadvantaged or had additional health needs.
The plan also highlights the links between oral health and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, and provides strategies for greater collaboration between dentists and other health professionals.
"Chronic conditions are the leading cause of illness, disability and death in Australia and place a significant cost on society," Mr Day said.
"For this reason, a key component of the plan highlights prevention and promotion strategies targeted to at-risk population groups as well as the broader community.
"Oral health problems are the biggest single cause of acute preventable hospital admissions in WA, with more than 9,500 people hospitalised each year."
The plan also identifies enhanced research opportunities to improve access to high-quality qualitative and quantitative data to assist policy makers, healthcare organisations and clinicians in planning service delivery.