Political priority of oral health in India: analysis of the reasons for neglect

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine the political priority of oral health in India and to understand the underlying reasons for the political support oral health receives.

Methods

The analysis is based on the political power framework developed by Shiffman and Smith and modified by Benzian et al. to examine the factors that contribute to the political priority of oral health in India. The framework comprises four main analysis categories, further subdivided into 11 dimensions. Based on the set of criteria, each dimension was analyzed and rated by assigning a score to assess to what extend the criteria were met.

Results

There is a good understanding on what defines an oral health problem, however, there is no consolidated and comprehensive approach to address oral diseases. Despite India's efforts to improve oral health-related research, its poor utilization in terms of public health and population-based approaches is apparent. The absence of a national surveillance system for oral health masks the severity and extent of the oral disease burden and limits the basis for advocacy on improving oral health to health decision makers. The fragmentation of actors and institutions and the absence of leaders uniting various actors in oral public health impede changes toward improving the oral health status of the population.

Conclusions

Limited accessibility to oral health care, poor portrayals of the severity and extent of the burden, and inertia to address-related challenges are important factors contributing to the low political priority of oral health.

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