City’s oral health month celebration to focus on dental wellness for kids, communities

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

As Iloilo City continues to return to face-to-face activities, health advocacy also returns to the forefront, and the City Health Office (CHO) is making kids’ and indigent communities’ oral health front and center of the Oral Health Month this February.

A series of activities have been lined up in partnership with the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), the Department of Health (DOH), the Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB), and the Department of Education (DepEd).

This year’s theme, “Ngiting Protektado, Ngiting Panalo,” aims to strengthen awareness and reiterate the significance of good oral hygiene habits via outreach to all Filipinos, reminding them to keep their teeth, gums, and entire mouth healthy.

The first activity on February 16 will be a tooth brushing drill at the Iloilo Central Elementary School with 150 school-aged children, with 30 of them undergoing fluoride varnish indication.

Other activities throughout the month include the Search for Orally-Fit Child open to all day care centers in the city, a poster-making contest focusing on children in Grades 4 to 6 levels which will be voted upon by the public via Facebook reactions, Search for Oral Health Best Smile sponsored by the DOH, and the Search for the Best Oral Health Barangay Mural Painting Competition, among others.

The mural-painting competition is the newest addition to the celebration, which will be joined by barangays Buntatala, Calumpang, Dungon A, Mansaya, Muelle Loney, Rizal (La Paz), and Tagbak.

Dr. Daisheila Valasote from the CHO’s dental division said this contest was inspired by murals across the city, painted mainly during the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The formal unveiling of the murals will coincide with the blessing of the city government’s Uswag Dental Digital Center at Brgy. Dungon A, which will cater to health center patients.

“I would rather promote this kind of advocacy [mural-painting] because the people will see it. There’s no need to verbally deliver. Looking at it visually, there is already impact with people passing by,” said Valasote.

Valasote also mentioned that they have recently finished training barangay captains in implementing the Dental Home Project (DHP) at the community levels, centering on building good relationships between dentists, barangay officials, and patients, as well as other collaborating entities.

She said that barangay captains were “happy and excited” about the DHP’s referral system and logistics, which will see the provision of free toothbrushes and toothpaste to children, particularly Grade 1 learners in elementary schools in low-income barangays across the city.

“This partnership [DHP] is not just done by the dentist, it is a collaborative project, among others, like for barangay officials, they should be responsive to [dental] services since their facility is located in their barangays, they need to support us as well, not just the dentists. The only thing that [CHO] dental division can provide is the human workforce. Other than that, nothing else,” she said.

The Oral Health Month, otherwise known as the Philippine Dental Health Month, was first celebrated as the National Dental Health Week from February 3 to 9 via Proclamation No. 235 issued by former President Elpidio Quirino on January 24, 1951.

The month-long celebration was mandated by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo via Proclamation No. 559 issued on February 24, 2004.