BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– The importance of maintaining oral health care was emphasised during the March 1 reopening of the newly renovated Newton Dental Clinic.
The opening was attended by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Minister of Health, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Minister of State responsible for Health, the Honourable Wendy Phipps and Member of Parliament for St. Christopher One, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd.
With the reopening of the Newtown Dental Clinic there are now three operational public dental clinics in St. Kitts. There are also many private clinics across the island.
Renovations began at the facility in February 2017 and resulted in extensive rehabilitation work that saw cupboards and furniture replaced, walls painted, basins replaced, new air conditioning units installed and existing ones serviced. The entire building was also fumigated. Most of the rehabilitation work was performed by the Public Works Department with assistance from the Environmental Health Department, and the Maintenance Department at the Basseterre Health Centre.
“The Ministry of Health and by extension the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to invest heavily in oral healthcare as it is integral to overall health and has drastic implications on several other quality of life indicators,” explained Minister Hamilton. Touching on the issue of nutrients, he noted they are typically drawn from the foods consumed and enter the digestive and circulatory systems.
“The vital mastication process is heavily dependent on the quality of our oral health and is considered to be one of the most significant factors that could adversely affect the quantity of life,” said Hamilton. “It is therefore, why my government invests heavily in providing free dental services to the people of this country, especially to the youth attending schools and universities,” said Hamilton. “Poor oral health contributes to too many diseases that are prominent today, such as diabetes and heart attack. As a nation, and as we consider Universal Health Coverage, we work to bend the curve on all chronic diseases.”
Minister Hamilton encouraged everyone to take the time to invest in oral care as this can reap significant benefits, not only to one’s dental health but overall health.
“Maintaining good health requires us to be multi-faceted in our approach and application of healthy lifestyles,” he said. “Since all diseases begin in the gut…it behooves us to be very conscious, very alert and very mindful of what we consume as food. And even when such food is best for ensuring our long and healthy life, we must ensure that contamination does not begin with poor oral health.”
Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said that the reopening of the dental clinic is a significant investment in dental healthcare by the government for the benefit of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
It is “an investment by the Team Unity Administration to improve healthcare everywhere and which should pay dividends for us as a people,” said Dr. Harris.
Minister Liburd noted the clinic was commissioned almost 20 years ago to be a standalone facility that offers primary oral healthcare to the population. Clinics were subsequently opened at the Pogson Medical Centre in Sandy Point and the Mary Charles Hospital in Molineux, but the Newtown facility has maintained its importance to a large segment of people from all walks of life, including primary and secondary school students.
“Services, I am advised, were also offered to Her Majesty’s Prison on a monthly basis and the correctional facility at Harris’ village,” said Liburd. “Services are also provided for the vulnerable population including all children, older persons over the age of 62 years and the mentally ill. This includes clients at the Dr. Arthur W. Lake Mental Health Day Treatment Centre and the psychiatric ward at the J. N. France General Hospital.
The clinic has four dental rooms, a recovery room, and enclosed spaces designated for sterilization, x-ray and stores, among others. Ramps make the building more accessible to the differently-abled.
“We cannot understate the importance of dental health services,” said Liburd. “The school health programme is a best practice with a strong focus on oral health promotion and prevention.
“Poor oral health can cause many diseases including oral candidiasis, gingivitis, periodontitis, and dental abscess. I want to implore you to try to access the services.”
The re-opening ceremony was attended by students from the nearby Tucker-Clarke Primary School who witnessed the ceremony and later toured the renovated clinic.