FNU Vice Chancellor, Dr Ganesh Chand. Photo: FILE.
A meeting to discuss oral health issues affecting the Pacific region took place from August 24-27 in Suva, Fiji.
The Pacific Islands Heads of Dental Services Meeting 2014 was hosted by the Fiji National University and was attended by representatives from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
FNU Vice Chancellor, Dr Ganesh Chand, said there was a need to discuss oral health as it was becoming an area of increasing concern in all Pacific island countries and territories.
“The rate of dental caries, periodontal disease and other oral health problems, has increased dramatically over the past few decades,” he said.
Dr Chand said National Oral Health surveys in Pacific island countries have struggled to keep up with the increasing demand for wider coverage of oral health problems.
He said the four-day programme was an opportunity for heads of dental services to discuss issues faced in the planning, delivery and management of quality oral health services for the people of the Pacific islands.
“As the leading dental school in the Pacific islands, the Department of Oral Health at Fiji National University has several strategic objectives in place to allow for the development of oral health in the Pacific Islands.”
“Our dental school has had consistent impact in providing appropriately skilled personnel to meet oral health needs in the region and is consistently reviewing and developing our programmes to ensure their relevance and currency.”
Dr Chand said the introduction of the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health Dentistry and the Postgraduate Diploma in Oral Surgery marks the beginning of another chapter in the Department’s history.
“I am confident that collaboration with regional stakeholders, through definitive outcomes such as those achieved at this week’s meeting, will contribute to achieving relevant and sustainable strategies,” he said.
Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Oral Health at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr Leenu Maimanuku, said last year, the College celebrated the 20th year of offering an integrated dental hygiene, dental therapy and dentistry programme for the region.
“In addition to this, the Bachelor of Oral Health programme was incorporated into the unique, multi-entry and multi-exit structure of the dentistry programme structure at the Fiji National University,” she said.
Dr Maimanuku said the introduction of two Postgraduate programmes for dentists across the region was testament to a School which is growing and addressing the region’s collective needs.
She said it has been a long journey since 1945 when the first dentist graduated from the dental school in Suva.
Dr Maimanuku said the meeting considered ways in which the Dental School could be of further service to Fiji’s Pacific island neighbours in tangible ways. These included promoting relevant scholarship and research and the establishment of best practices in public health and clinical dentistry.