Manila, June 9 (IANS) More than 800 million or 42 per cent of the people in the Western Pacific region suffer from oral diseases, such as untreated dental caries, gum disease, or tooth loss, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.
The Western Pacific regional summary of the WHO global oral health status report warned that, oral diseases in the region surged by nearly 30 per cent over the past 30 years, from an estimated 629 million cases in 1990 to more than 800 million cases in 2019, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Western Pacific has the world’s highest burden of tooth loss among the WHO’s six regions, with roughly 92 million people aged 20 years and older are missing all their teeth, including 25 per cent of adults aged 60 and older, the report said.
Despite oral diseases being largely preventable, the report said few countries in the Western Pacific invest adequately in efforts to address the issue.
Additionally, a dentist-centered workforce model dominates in most countries in the region, with inadequate task sharing and skill mixes within the wider oral health team.
With the growing population of older adults in the region, there could be a further increase in the burden of oral diseases in the years to come, unless countries integrate essential oral health services into universal health coverage benefit packages, the report said.
“As countries work towards universal health coverage, oral health promotion and treatment should be included in healthcare packages,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Acting Regional Director for the Western Pacific.