Waiting for an oral health policy

 

Sir, – The letter by Dr Padraig Ó Reachtagain (Letters, December 28th) raises again the question of the continued delay in publication of its oral health policy by the Department of Health and the refusal to involve the dental profession in formulating this policy.

The Irish Dental Association, which represents over 80 per cent of practising dentists, has commented at length in the last years about the failure to consult with our association. In July we established a task force to set out what we see as the priorities which should inform the new “oral health policy”. We published our “Towards a Vision for Oral Health” in October, and in the document we point out that the subject of oral health at Government level seems to be regarded as the poor relation of general health and is generally overlooked as a gateway to promoting general health. We have sent a copy to Minister for Health Simon Harris for his consideration and remain available to meet him to discuss our vision for a new model of care based on prevention.

We continue to seek development of a new relationship with the Department of Health based on inclusivity and mutual respect with Ireland’s dentists. While all sections of the profession remain ready to play their part, unless a new relationship based on mutual respect is established between the Department and the country’s dentists, the new policy will be doomed to failure.

The oral health policy may be a once in a generation publication and a we owe it to our colleagues and the Irish population to approach consideration of the policy, whose contents remain unknown at this stage, with an open mind even if, remarkably, the Irish Dental Association has been left outside the door and denied the opportunity to play a part in its formulation. Nonetheless, we will make no apology for representing the views of our members and the needs of our patients while giving every reasonable proposal a fair hearing. – Yours, etc,

Dr KIERAN O’CONNOR,

President,

Irish Dental Association,

IDA House, Unit 2,

Leopardstown Office Park,

Dublin 18.