Services rendered and barriers faced by public sector oral hygienists in two provinces in South Africa
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Oral hygienists (OHs) drive oral disease preventive programmes and promote good health practices. South Africa (SA) has a shortage of this cadre of health worker especially in the public sector. This 2009 project was the first effort to determine the professional activities performed, barriers faced and work-related issues that affected OHs employed at that time in Gauteng and in KwaZulu-Natal. The cross-sectional descriptive study used a self-administered questionnaire developed after a comprehensive literature review. The response rate was 78% (N=32). Almost all (94%) respondents gave "providing a service to the community" as the main reason for working in the public sector, where they were committed to offering preventative oral and dental services at clinics and in the community. Common employment problems were poor salaries (94%), lack of resources (81%) and the perception that opportunities for promotion are limited (78%), compounded by poor recognition of the services provided by OHs. In order to more effectively utilise the skills and commitment of OHs in delivering preventive dentistry in the public sector, such problems facing the profession should be addressed.
South African Dental Journal
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Dentistry not elsewhere classified