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 Table of Contents  
REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 14-15

Community outreach, COVID-19, and challenges


Department of Public Health Dentistry, Kalinga Institute of Dental Sciences, Patia, Bhubaneswar, India

Date of Submission17-Dec-2020
Date of Decision15-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance07-Feb-2021
Date of Web Publication9-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Priyanka Brahma
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Kalinga Institute of Dental Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jpcdoh.jpcdoh_10_20

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  Abstract 


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a major challenge to health systems across the world. With this dental outreach, programs play a very crucial role in raising community awareness through health education and dental services. In developing countries like India, access to oral health care is poor in rural areas. People need to be motivated for participation in outreach activities and avail the services. Initiatives should be taken up to raise awareness regarding maintenance of good oral hygiene by using antimicrobial mouthwashes and visiting the dentist at regular intervals.

Keywords: Awareness, community, COVID-19, health education, outreach


How to cite this article:
Hazarika SJ, Brahma P, Jnaneswar A, Jha K. Community outreach, COVID-19, and challenges. J Prim Care Dent Oral Health 2021;2:14-5

How to cite this URL:
Hazarika SJ, Brahma P, Jnaneswar A, Jha K. Community outreach, COVID-19, and challenges. J Prim Care Dent Oral Health [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 23];2:14-5. Available from: http://www.jpcdoh.org/text.asp?2021/2/1/14/310943




  Introduction Top


Martin Luther King Jr once said, “life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” Services rendered to the community is an important aspect of health care. Access to health care is asymmetrical between rural and urban India.[1] There has been a significant improvement in health for the past few years, but the distribution of services has not been equal across the populations.[2]

With regard to oral health, about 80% of the dentists work in major cities in India, whereas more than 70% of the Indians reside in rural areas resulting in unaccessible provision of required services to many. The dentist-to-population ratio is 1:10,000 in urban areas whereas 1:150,000 in rural areas.[2]

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a major challenge to health systems across the world. There is a rapidly increasing demand for care of people with COVID-19 leading to disruptions in the supply of health-care deliveries.[3] There have been restrictions toward conducting dental outreach programs.[4] Keeping this in mind, various care pathways of primary care and community programs, ensuring that people in all areas have access to timely clinical care, can be adopted.

With COVID-19 being a major threat, the public health-care system is required to have better care and treatment for marginalized communities and rural population.[3] Poor oral health has an impact on the severity of COVID-19 as it contributes as a factor in the occurrence of respiratory infections.[5] Hence, short- and long-term oral health needs of individuals should be addressed. In this review, we focus on outreach programs and its significance in public health along with the challenges toward its execution in the times of COVID-19.


  Background Top


An outreach program is a complete entanglement between the community and the health institution or organizations.[6] It is an endeavor by the professionals to impart services targeting the general population to generate awareness and improve oral health. Outreach programs are generally conducted by both governmental and nongovernmental setups directed toward the benefit of the community using the available resources. Introducing dental outreach programs also aids in the early diagnosis of oral diseases. The community-based dental outreach programs play a very crucial role in raising community awareness through health education and dental adumbrating services.[6] These programs are found to be very effective for diminishing health unevenness. Previous studies have shown that utilization of dental services was high among the dentate elderly, with nearly three-quarters reporting that they had visited a dentist within the past year.[7]

During outreach programs, various reasons were put up by community members toward seeking dental treatment such as painful dental treatment, high dental charges, long waiting times, and being too busy for a dental visit.[8] Community outreach programs are an essential part of public health services, helping health professionals reach the weaker sections of the society for delivery of basic oral health services.[5] It provides an opportunity for carrying out epidemiological studies. Outreach programs should be tailored to address the felt needs of the community.[5]

The challenges faced in the delivery of oral health services cannot be ignored. The utilization of health-care services depends on the attitude of the target community and the societal structure along with the individual needs. In many developing countries like India, access to oral health care is far fetched, particularly in rural areas.

In a study conducted by Vashisth et al., it was observed that most of the patients attending the dental outreach programs were in the age group of 15–55 years (65.3%), indicating that there was less utilization by children and older individuals.[2] It was also noted that a total of 56.1% of patients attending the outreach program were either illiterate or had a low level of education.[2] The results of this study indicated that there was a need to motivate people toward participation in outreach activities and seek the necessary services.[2]


  Outreach Activities in the Time of COVID-19 Top


Dentistry forms an important part of our health-care system, which has had a setback during the current pandemic of COVID-19.[9] As a part of the community outreach programs, initiatives should be taken up to make individuals aware regarding maintenance of good oral hygiene by using antimicrobial mouthwashes and visiting the dentist at regular intervals. As COVID-19 symptoms have a vast range from breathing difficulties to oral mucosal lesions, hence preventive services should be incorporated in the basic outreach packages. Teledentistry has emerged as the best mode of communication between patients and dentists and also serving as a substitute for outreach campaigns. It can be incorporated into routine dental practice as it offers a wide range of applications such as remote triaging of the suspected COVID-19 patients for dental treatment and decreasing the unnecessary exposure of healthy or uninfected patients by decreasing their visits to already burdened dental offices and hospitals.[9]


  Conclusion Top


The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities that have worsened the oral health inequalities. Dental care systems now should cater to the needs of the community and prioritize vulnerable groups.

The barriers for access to oral health care need to be looked into and the existing services should be reformed. In tough times like the current pandemic that we are all dealing it, it is essential to provide affordable services to the community and to make all resources available. Oral health is considered the gateway to systemic health, hence maintenance of one's oral health along with the awareness is essential. Outreach programs targeting the mass is the best possible way to bring about a change in the already existing facilities.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Barik D, Thorat A. Issues of unequal access to public health in India. Front Public Health 2015;3:245.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Vashisth S, Gupta N, Bansal M, Rao NC. Utilization of services rendered in dental outreach programs in rural areas of Haryana. Contemp Clin Dent 2012;3:S164-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Community-Based Health Care, Including Outreach and Campaigns, in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Available from: https://www.who.int. [Last accessed on 2020 Dec 05].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Westgarth, D. COVID-19 and community dental services: The challenges ahead. BDJ In Pract 2020;33:14-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Kadaluru UG, Kempraj VM, Muddaiah P. Utilization of oral health care services among adults attending community outreach programs. Indian J Dent Res 2012;23:841-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
6.
Dagli R, Singh A. Dental outreach program-How effective it is in reaching out to the community. J Int Oral Health 2015;7:i-ii.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Kadaluru UG, Kempraj VM, Muddaiah P. Utilization of oral health care services among adults attending community outreach programs. Indian J Dent Res 2012;23:841-2.  Back to cited text no. 7
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
8.
Bamise C, Bada T, Bamise F, Ogunbodede E. Dental care utilization and satisfaction of residential university students. Libyan J Med 2008;3:140-3.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Ghai S. Teledentistry during COVID-19 pandemic. Diabetes Metab Syndr 2020;14:933-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
    




 

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