BANGALORE: Senior citizens belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families have much reason to cheer with the state government deciding to distribute free dentures to them from this November.
The free denture initiative, adding more ambulances for 108 emergency service and opening generic medical centres are some of the promises made by the government in its budget for 2014-15.
Although no specific amount has been reserved in the budget, the Health Department claims that it has adequate funds to spend on the scheme.
“I have seen elderly people who find it difficult to eat food as they don’t have teeth. They just swallow food without chewing. Hence, I came out with the idea of distributing free dentures to the poor. The government is ready to provide good quality dentures to senior citizens,” said Health and Family Welfare Minister U T Khader.
He said there are over 40 private colleges and one government dental college in the state. Special camps would be held in villages to identify people in need of dentures and then bring them to the nearest dental college/hospital to take impression of their dentures.
The government would fix a minimum rate at which dentures should be delivered and there would be no cap on beneficiaries.
The minister said the state government would come out with an Oral Health Policy within the next month to give special impetus to the much-neglected dental health. A committee, headed by Dr Ganesh Shenoy, has been constituted to work out the policy. Already, two to three rounds of meetings have been held and the policy would be finalised soon after Dasara, he added.
As many as 69 posts of dentists are vacant in government hospitals. In some hospitals, there are doctors, but no dental chairs and in some places there are dental chairs san dentists.
The government is ready to take dentists on contract basis, but doctors are not coming forward to work in government hospitals. Despite shortage, the government is committed to posting dentists to at least district hospitals, added a senior official of the Health Department.