Assessing Oral Health Needs in Rwanda

November 15, 2017
DrHackley in Rwanda

Donna Hackley, PD95, HSDM instructor in Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology, has worked closely with colleagues in Rwanda on the country’s first ever National Oral Health Survey. The survey was conducted to establish baseline national oral health status, inform oral health strategic planning, and build oral health research capacity.

Development and implementation of oral health promotion, prevention, disease management and infrastructure relies on availability of baseline national oral health information that until now, was not available for the tiny East African country of Rwanda.

The Cummings Foundation sponsored three years of preparations culminating with data collection that occurred in late 2016. The preliminary draft report was presented to the Honorable Minister of Health Dr. Diane Gashumba, the State Minister of Public and Primary Healthcare Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, University of Rwanda Vice Chancellor Professor Philip Cotton, and the Acting Director of Injuries and Disabilities Unit at Rwanda Biomedical Center Mrs. Irene Bagahirwa on August 10, 2017.

The report summarized the background, methodology, results and recommendations of the survey, which was a comprehensive systematic cross-sectional study across five age groups of more than 2,000 people living in 15 randomly selected urban and rural sites throughout Rwanda. Data was collected using modified questions and indicators from the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors. Questions focused on socio-demographic characteristics, oral health indicators, practices and quality of life and also included an oral screening. The report was presented by the principal and co-principal investigators including Dr. Donna Hackley of HSDM, Dr. John Morgan of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM), Deputy Dean Agnes Gatarayiha and Dr. Moses Isyagi, both of the University of Rwanda School of Dentistry.

The study concluded that the burden of oral diseases and conditions was substantial. Children and adult populations had unmet dental caries and periodontal related treatment needs. The availability of oral health services was found to be challenging and the quality of life was adversely affected by current oral diseases/conditions.

The Honorable Minister of Health will consider the findings and begin discussions on national strategies for oral health promotion, education, prevention and management of oral diseases in order to meet the oral health needs of all Rwandans.