One-third of first graders have oral health problems, finds Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education has released findings of a health screening programme, revealing that 35.2 percent of first graders have oral health problems.

The screening of 6,331 Grade 1 students, aged between 6 and 7, concluded that 1,650 students have had extensive oral and dental problems, such as tooth infections.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Minister of Defence and acting health minister Mohamed Nazim said that, though there were no serious and alarming issues with the screenings, the majority of current problems are caused by malnutrition.

“Increasing number of underweight children indicate the presence of malnutrition,” said Nazim. “We have to determine whether the problem is hereditary or due to our behavior. We have to try and find an immediate solution to the issue.”

The report showed that the majority of the oral health cases were from Malé, Thaa Atoll, Laamu Atoll, and Haa Dhaalu Atoll.

The screenings – conducted in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Gender and the Maldives National Defense Force – showed ear related issues as the next biggest health problem faced by the children with 950 such cases.

The health screenings in Malé were conducted at Senehiyaa Hospital under the Ministry of Defense and National Security while the screenings in the atolls were done by various health centers in the atolls coming under the Ministry of Health.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of the report today, Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed stated that one of the most important aspects of the government’s health policy is establishing mechanisms which will ensure the prevention of diseases in the country.

Jameel also said that such reports would fuel the efforts of all Maldivians to live a healthier lifestyle, while also aiding in the prevention and better understanding of major diseases in their early stages.

Speaking to Haveeru Dr Ali Shaahid from Senehiyaa Hospital noted that, even if major health problems were not discovered in the screenings, some parents were able to identify previously undiagnosed health problems with the children.

“Some parents were not aware of the fact their children had eyesight problems. Those parents found out only after the survey,” explained Shaahid.

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