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Keynote Address of Secretary Enrique T. Ona Garantisadong Pambata and Orally Fit Child Awards

February 19, 2013

PICC, Pasay City

Let me begin by conveying my deepest appreciation to all our partners here today for responding to the challenge of getting and working together towards the vision of attaining Healthy Filipino Children. Indeed,I am very happy to join you in this gathering----- to honor our 52 awardees who have shown outstanding efforts and commitments that have made significant impact in the lives of our children.

Let’s give them a big big round of applause!

Each Filipino child holds the potential of a better future for our country. It is our task to help each child reach their fullest potential, starting with a child’s good health.We all play a vital role in nurturing children’s health whether or not we are parents. Indeed the responsibility of child care is primarily in the hands of mothers and fathers. But every child belongs to a community. So, each person in the community has to keep his community a safe place for children to live in.

          The Department of Health, our local government units and other partners started the Garantisadong Pambata (GP) Campaign on 1998 to promote universal access of standard package for child survival services. The Package consists of (8) essential and plus 1 interventions. These are 1) skilled birth attendance during pregnancy, delivery and immediate postpartum, 2) care of newborn, 3) breast feeding and complementary feeding, 4) micronutrient supplementation and deworming, 5) immunization of children and mothers, 6) integrated management of sick children, 7) child injury prevention and control, 8) birth spacing and 9) proper personal hygiene (including but not limited to proper hand washing, proper tooth brushing and wearing of footwear).

          The GP initiative contributed to the improvement of child health in the country. It is a strategy to harmonize existing DOH approaches which has made considerable progress in reducing child mortality.

Save the children, a US-based global independent organization, reported that in 2008, the Philippines attained the highest record of delivery of basic health care services for children among the 55 developing countries. The Philippines ranked number one with the best child care among the developing countries.

          With this development, it is very relevant to give recognition to our local governments for your contribution in attaining the highest record of delivering basic health care services for children.

          The commitment and dedication of our LGUs in serving the most vulnerable groups like mothers and children in providing different health services such as Vitamin A supplementation, deworming, immunization and other essential health services deserve recognition.

          For this particular edition of GP Champs Awards one component of the program will be highlighted: The Orally Fit Child (OFC).

Unfortunately, the oral health picture of our Filipino children is quite disturbing. Nine out of Ten of our six-year-old children are unnecessarily suffering from tooth decay and other dental ailments. The epidemic of tooth decay continues to go uncheck leading to millions of school hours lost among our school children and surely to more productive days wasted during their adult years.

The child with an oral health problem is complacent in the sense that rarely would tooth decay contribute directly to death.  However, its chronicity is insidious and does not sound any alarm until it cause them significant pain, disfigure their face and distract them from eating and from productive playing and learning.

The child so affected with such handicap becomes withdrawn and avoids socializing with people and so lessens his opportunities for advancement. 

More critical however is the effect of poor or defective teeth to overall nutrition to maintain good general health that begins with the first bite and chewing the food efficiently.

Our National Oral Health Program has been providing promotive, preventive and curative dental health care through package of essential basic oral health care (BOHC) across all ages. Thus, newborns are provided withdental check-up as soon as his first tooth erupts and health instructions on infant oral health care and advise on exclusive breastfeeding. Preschoolers are provided with toothbrushing drills while dental sealants and fluoride therapy are provided to school children and curative services to adults.

However, unlike the integration of dental care in DOH thrust programs, the availability of logistics, specifically toothbrush and toothpastes and preventive supplies such as sealants and fluorides, constant source of water that is safe for toothbrushing and sink for handwashing were issues in some communities and schools. The prohibitive cost of dental services is obviously one potent barrier in the fight to have a good oral health for our children. Great efforts should be done if we want to solve these problems.

The Department of Health, Social Welfare, Education, Interior and Local Government, Local Governments and NGOs came out with initiatives to achieve sustainable improvements in our country’s oral health specially to lower the prevalence of tooth decay among under-five children. This “Orally Fit Child (OFC)” program was launched as a nationwide campaign to highlight the importance of proper behaviors to maintain optimum oral health to under-six children. The goal is to make every child in our communities caries-free by age six and every child growing well into their adult years free from all sorts of dental problems. One strategy is that LGUs and other stakeholders are empowered to develop their own strategies unique to their communities and be responsible for finding local solutions to attain highest percentage of orally fit children in their schools and communities.

          An “orally fit child” is one who has healthy gums, no dental caries, and no dental plaque, among others. This program is an integral component of the Child Health Program which includes, among others, teaching children in daycare centers regular and proper tooth brushing techniques.

While we engage the energies of our partners in drawing a healthier future for the children by bringing oral health in the mainstream of our consciousness, we should also give due appreciation and recognition to their exemplary/outstanding work performance, contributions and achievements in the promotion of oral health.

Today we thank them --- the Local Government Units, our Day Care Centers, the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Interior and Local Government, Education and all of you who always responded to the call to take steps to prevent our children’s sufferings from tooth decay and have supported the Orally Fit Child Program.

I am particularly happy with the presence of our local government executives and their representatives from all over the country because now, we will be more motivated and inspired to instill a deeper involvement and encourage resourcefulness in the promotion of healthy Filipino children.

Maraming Salamat at Mabuhay Tayong Lahat!