The Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) says over 80 per cent of private dental clinics have been shut down, due to inability to procure requisite safety kits for prevention of Coronavirus spread.
Its President, Mrs Evelyn Eshikena, on Tuesday in Lagos that she was worried over the development as COVID-19 pandemic continued to ravage countries worldwide.
Eshikena said in a statement that this was due to the high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
According to her, a protocol was released for dental clinics to contain the transmission among dental healthcare professionals, patients and the general public.
She said it was also strongly recommended that dental clinics, especially private, unable to secure the basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or COVID-19 test kits, should shut down completely.
“Dental clinic should be shut until adequate arrangements are made for such essential materials.
“With near total collapse of dental care nationwide, patients unable to access the few operational private and public dental facilities are now grappling with varying degrees of discomfort.
“Also, dental clinics are faced with precarious economic situation, which may lead to permanent closure or downsising of dental workforce.
“This will result in job losses for dentists, dental technologists, therapists, nurses, surgery assistants, technicians, administrative and other support staff, if the pandemic is not contained soon, ” she said.
The association president, however, warned that the fight against COVID-19 would become lopsided and portend grave danger to people, if an integrated approach was not adopted.
”This approach will ensure that emphasis is not only placed on Coronavirus and respiratory or infectious disease experts, but also on other specialties and areas of healthcare ailments ravaging the populace.
“For instance, with reports of active transmission of Coronavirus by individuals with no symptoms, it becomes very likely that an asymptomatic patient can present a dental clinic with dental emergencies.
“These include severe toothache, trauma to oro-facial structures, bleeding, head and neck malignancies, failed or broken dental restorations, orthodontic emergencies, among others.
“Unsuspecting dental practitioners, attending to such individuals with no signs, symptoms or history of Coronavirus infection are exposed to hazards and become effective means of further spread of the virus,” she said.
Eshikena called on the Federal and State Governments to urgently come to the aid of dental healthcare professionals by providing the basic PPE, essential dental equipment and consumables to public and private dental facility.
She said it would enable practitioners to sustain the delivery of emergency dental services to people and prevent the spread of Coronavirus through such procedures.
The association president also appealed to the governments to extend the stimulus packages, grants and palliatives to private dental practitioners whose clinics have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
“The urgent need for government intervention has become inevitable, as the nation cannot afford further depletion of the already inadequate dental care facilities available for the population,” Eshikena said.