Providing Oral Health Care to Remote Indigenous Children: Cost Analysis

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Kularatna, Sanjeewa
Lalloo, Ratilal
Kroon, Jeroen
Tut, Ohnmar
Johnson, Newell
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London, United Kingdom


Objectives: In Australian Indigenous children dental disease is a significant health burden. It is expensive for the government to provide treatment in rural/remote communities. A study was conducted to test a single annual intervention to arrest the progress of disease. Before the preventive interventions all consenting children were treated for existing oral disease. The costs of providing dental treatment for these children in a remote Australian Indigenous community is presented here. Methods: All children in the community were invited to participate. Of 461 who underwent an epidemiological screen, 204 children who required restorative care consented. Treatment was provided by a clinical team employed by the research project over a three month period, the costs of which were calculated using the State Government’s Health Department fee schedule. These were compared to the actual cost of treating the children by the research team. For the latter, total costs including travel, accommodation, salaries and consumables for restorations, extractions and preventive treatments are used. Results: The total cost of this treatment per Government schedules was AUD184,981 (Mean AUD907 per child) for 204 children. The highest cost was for fissure sealants (AUD74,444): for 183 children, 1589 fissure sealants were provided. Restoration of posterior teeth was provided to 277 surfaces for AUD39,382. Forty nine anterior surfaces were treated at a cost of AUD12,247. Comparatively, the research team actually spent AUD71,905 (Mean AUD351) for these treatments. Conclusions: The actual cost was substantially lower than the cost estimated with health department fee schedule. Costs of dental care in remote communities is high compared with metropolitan areas due to high disease burden and absence of preventive interventions. These data are a necessary comparator for assessing the cost-effectiveness of the preventative intervention provided to all these children.

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96th General Session & Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR 2018)

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Self-archiving of the author-manuscript version is not yet supported by this Publisher. Please refer to the conference link for access to the definitive, published version or contact the author(s) for more information.

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Kularatna, S; Lalloo, R; Kroon, J; Tut, O; Johnson, N, Providing Oral Health Care to Remote Indigenous Children: Cost Analysis, 96th General Session & Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR 2018), 2018