NACCHO- the National Authority for comprehensive Aboriginal Primary Health wants fluoride added to the water supplies of all Aboriginal communities.
In its submission NACCHO called on the federal government to provide money to Aboriginal-controlled health organisations so they could provide dental services.
Aboriginal people were more likely than non-indigenous Australians to have lost all their teeth, it said.
The organisation urged state and territory government to fluoridate all town, city and Aboriginal community water supplies.
As well more work was needed to attract dental workers to remote Aboriginal communities.
“There are concerns among dental health professionals that positions in Aboriginal communities are not seen as part of the usual career ladder,” NACCHO said.
Exposure to Aboriginal controlled health organisations during training would help attract more young dentists.
Proper funding would allow organisations to offer competitive remuneration packages that would encourage dentists to remote and rural areas
NACCHO recommends that the NPA for adult public dental services:
1. Provide culturally appropriate oral health services to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
2. Increase the oral health workforce available to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
3. Increase oral health promotion activity with the aim of improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
4. Improve the collection, quality and dissemination of oral health information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and
5. Foster the integration of oral health within health systems and services, particularly with respect to primary health care and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In addition, NACCHO asserts that:
1) Oral Health is a priority health issue for Aboriginal peoples.
2) Oral health is a core part of the holistic health that Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services aim to provide.
3) Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services should provide primary oral health care services including emergency and preventative oral health care and oral health promotion.
4) Australia’s National Partnership Agreement to come into effect June 2014 should be fully funded and implemented, in particular in relation to measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in particular.
5) The Patient-assisted Transport Scheme (PATS) must be extended to dental patients.
6) Dental services should be subsidised to all needy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients to reduce or eliminate cost as a barrier to accessing services..
7) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in correctional facilities should have access to culturally appropriate oral health programs.
8) All oral health workers must receive cultural awareness training either as part of their initial training or through on-going professional development. This will increase the level of culturally accessible oral health services.
9) There should be support for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals to be trained in all the oral health profession: dentists, dental hygienists, dental therapists, etc.
10) The Australian Dental Council (ADC) should include performance indicators for training schools for recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees and have a target of 2.4% of each profession being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander individuals.
11) Oral health should be included in the core training of all health workers including Aboriginal Health Workers.
12) Fluoridation of drinking water supplies is an effective strategy to reduce oral health problems.
13) Culturally appropriate Oral Health promotion materials need to be developed, tested for impact, and widely disseminated if effective.
14) Improved and regular collection of data on Aboriginal oral health status and use of services is needed to allow monitoring of the impact of interventions and assessment of achievement of oral health goals and targets.
15) Work with all Australian governments to develop oral health service provision at all its member health services.
16) Work with stakeholders to develop cultural awareness training for all oral health workers.
17) Campaign in support of fluoridation of city, town and community water supplies.
18) Improve the level of useful Aboriginal oral health data initially by influencing the capacity for the sector to collect national data collection in those Aboriginal Community Controlled Services with an existing oral health service – e.g periodontal and dental caries status, oral hygiene knowledge and periodontal disease links with Diabetes etc.
19) Support research to collect information on the areas of individual oral health behaviours, knowledge and barriers in regards to oral health including the availability and affordability of oral hygiene items.
NACCHO calls upon the Federal Government, in collaboration with state and territory governments and NACCHO, to:
20) Fully fund and implement the 2014 National Partnership Agreement
21) Set and monitor goals and time specific targets in relation to meeting a range of oral health outcomes such as caries rates, periodontal disease rates and tooth extraction rates.
22) Formally recognise oral health as a key part of Aboriginal holistic health care to be provided by ACCHSs.
23) Allocate resources specifically for oral health services for Aboriginal peoples.
24) Increase oral health promotion activities in ACCHSs. This would require both increased financing for the development and testing of suitable materials, service provision and training of the AHW workforce.
25) Provide subsidised tooth brushes, tooth paste and floss to all remote communities in the first place and extend this as necessary to other communities where data collection indicates there is an access issue for these items.
NACCHO calls upon state and territory governments to:
26) Fluoridate all town, city and Aboriginal community water supplies that do not naturally contain a level of fluoride sufficient to prevent dental caries and immediately fluoridisation where this has ceased.
We welcome feedback on this recommendations