Important first steps towards improving dental health in Myanmar's population 

The Foundation has been proud to co-fund an important initiative in Myanmar that seeks to improve the oral health of the population.

The first stage of the project saw the conduct of the country's first national oral health survey.  This was successfully implemented by the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) with financial and technical assistance being provided by international agencies and a number of organisations / authorities within Myanmar.

The cross-sectional descriptive survey was carried out in 21 locations from 14 of the country’s states and regions over December 2016 and January 2017, a considerable achievement as a high proportion of people live in rural areas, in many instances, in remote communities.

Five age groups were included: 6, 12, 15 -18, 35 - 44 and 60 - 74-year-olds. The results showed a high prevalence of primary dental caries, much untreated decay in all age groups, high levels of periodontitis, high intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages, and poor oral hygiene habits particularly amongst the 60 - 74-year-olds.  These important findings provided a sound basis for the review of the priorities for oral health improvement in Myanmar.

Support has also been provided for workshops held to review the results and consider and discuss the priorities for the development of a national oral health strategy. Participants included: staff from the international agencies and organisations involved, public health dentists from approximately 50 districts of Myanmar, the Director General of the MOHS, chief dental officer and representatives from the school health department at the MOHS, and medical officers from the department of non-communicable diseases. As a result of these events, a framework for the strategy has been produced.

We have been greatly impressed by the progress made in this collaborative project, which is ongoing, and further support has been allocated to facilitate the implementation of the strategy.