UKZN Academic to Present Oral Health Research Findings in Spain
UKZN Dentistry Lecturer, Mrs Moganavelli Reddy, is to present her award-winning doctoral research at a Euro Dental Congress in Spain.
In 2014, Reddy won R30 000 towards attending an international conference of her choice when she impressed adjudicators at the College of Health Sciences Research Symposium with her study titled: “A Situational Analysis of the Viability in Delivering Oral Health Promotion within the Health Promoting School Initiative in KwaZulu-Natal”.
‘Being a novice in research I could not believe I had won this award but was very pleased and felt honoured being recognised for my hard work,’ said Reddy. ‘Thanks and appreciation also go to my supervisor Dr Shenuka Singh for her constant support.’
The study which examined the viability of integrating oral health promotion activities within the health promoting schools programme was conducted at 23 health-promoting schools in the 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal.
Reddy said schools were settings where education and health programmes could have their greatest impact and influence on learners in an important stage in their lives – ‘childhood and adolescence’.
‘Dental caries, which is influenced by multi factorial factors such as diet, socio-economic status and the availability of oral health services, is a common condition affecting children in South Africa,’ said Reddy.
‘Currently services offered at public health facilities are mainly curative. School Health Services do not reach all learners especially in the rural areas and there is also a lack of funds and oral health personnel for the delivery of oral health services. Dental caries is expensive to treat but very preventable.’
Results from the study indicated that although policies included statements on oral health promotion, this was not translated into practice at school level. Barriers and challenges identified in the study for the successful implementation of an oral health promotion programme included lack of funds, human resources, knowledge and ownership, high workloads and time constraints.
‘Policy formulation and strategic planning must include educators and health care workers at grass root level for the successful implementation and sustainability of oral health promotion programmes,’ said Reddy, adding that more research was necessary to address opportunities and challenges facing educators and other oral health care providers working in the school environment.
Her current research interests include oral health promotion, health promoting schools, tobacco cessation and policy.
‘My career as a Dental Therapist started as a Clinician and I then became involved with the training of students at the facility I worked at because I enjoyed working with them and sharing my knowledge and expertise. The reward at the end was witnessing my students graduate and becoming successful professionals.’
Reddy was awarded funding by the National Research Foundation to complete her study on sabbatical this year.