Challenges experienced by Public Sector Oral Hygienists in South Africa
There is limited published information on the profile of oral hygienists in and the challenges they face. This study aims to report the profile of oral hygienists in Kwa-Zulu Natal and in 2005 and the challenges they experience in the provision of services in the public sector. Objectives: 1.The demographic profile of oral hygienists employed in the public health services in and. 2. The factors that may hinder the activities of the oral hygienist in the public sector. Methods: This was a cross sectional descriptive study and data was collected by means of a questionnaire. Results: There was a combined response rate of 78% (N=32). Almost all of the respondents, 30 (94%) were females. Of the 30 females, 14 (47%) were employed in GP and 16 (53%) in KZN. The majority 23 (72%) of the OHs were Black, of these 14 (61%) were employed in KZN and 9 (39%) in GP. Six (19%) Whites, 2 (6%) Indians and only 1 (3%) Coloured was employed. Almost half (47%) were employed as chief OHs and none at assistant director level. The majority (77%) of the OHs reported that they experienced barriers and constraints that impacted on the provision of dental services to the community. Conclusion: The racial profile of the OHs employed in these provinces was similar to the demography of the population of as reported by STATS. The main challenges experienced by OHs in the public sector was the lack of human and other resources, poor salaries and no opportunities for promotion.
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