The leading global toothpaste brand, Pepsodent in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Dental Association, has embarked on an oral health campaign for schools and communities in underserved areas nationwide. The oral health campaign, ‘Pepsodent Talk to a Dentist Activation,’ targets 20 communities in nine states, including Lagos, Rivers, Plateau, Ogun, Kano, FCT, Delta, Edo, and Bayelsa.
The program, which kicked off on July 6, 2023, at Pakoto Secondary School, Ifo, Ogun State, was concluded on November 7, 2023.
Speaking on the rationale behind the initiative, Business Lead, Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever Nigeria, Oiza Gyang, explained that the program was initiated to bring oral health care services and other oral health promotional activities to underprivileged and under-served areas to reduce the burden of untreated oral diseases as envisaged by the FDI World Dental Federation.
Gyang stressed that the company remains committed to promoting oral health for children and adults as it intends to take the campaigns to virtually all the rural communities in Nigeria.
She noted that statistics further revealed that 90% of the world’s population suffer from at least one form of oral disease in their lifetime, which negatively impacts causing pain, discomfort, social isolation, and loss of confidence.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Dental Association(NDA), Dr Oluwole Olusanya, noted that the essence of the campaign is to deepen the knowledge of good oral hygiene practices by encouraging and educating young pupils across the country.
“We are here to teach them how to brush their teeth properly, find out those who have teeth infection, offer some treatment to them and refer those who need more advanced treatment to dental centres around the state,” Olusanya said.
He explained that it was gladdening to note that the level of consciousness for oral hygiene among Nigerians has increased considerably since the take-off of the initiative by the professional body and Unilever Nigeria.
Also speaking, Assistant Category Manager – Oral Care, Chinonyerem Opara, explained that the decision of Unilever as a company to embark on the campaign to communities is borne out of the need to transform individuals who were once unaware of the importance of oral hygiene into advocates for healthier smiles.
Opara noted that the company is committed to changing the narrative by ensuring that those residing in rural communities have access to oral healthcare when faced with any oral disease.
She stated that research has shown that oral health care is often available in urban areas rather than in rural areas, where most of the world’s population resides. She said this situation has left the underserved and underprivileged living in rural communities with a relatively high burden of untreated oral diseases.
Speaking during one of the activations, the Principal, of Sanmori Senior Comprehensive High School, Mrs. Josephine Salako, noted that the initiative by Pepsodent and NDA would go a long way to create much-needed awareness about oral hygiene. Salako pointed out that the dental check-up for the pupils would undoubtedly have a multiplier effect on families and society.
She expressed appreciation to the management of Unilever Nigeria and the Nigerian Dental Association for giving hope to the less privileged, noting that this is another unique way of giving back to society.
Other places where activations took place include Makoko Community in Yaba, Lagos State, Ogoni Community in Ogoni, River State, Community Secondary School in Elikkpokpowdo, Rupokwu, River State, Ode-Itsekiri Community in Warri South, Delta State, and Owhelogbo Grammar School in Owhelogbo, Delta State.
Over 1 million community residents and school children were reached with this oral health campaign.