NT Child Health Check sees improvements in oral health

The results of the Child Health Check Initiative (CHCI) Closing the Gap (CtG) program are in
The results of the Child Health Check Initiative (CHCI) Closing the Gap (CtG) program are in, and it’s looking promising.

Improvements have been made in the oral and ear health of Indigenous children in the Northern Territory, according to a report released this week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Northern Territory Emergency Response Child Health Check Initiative follow-up for oral and ear health: final report, August 2007 to June 2012, presents information on the dental, audiology and ear, nose and throat (ENT) services funded throughout the course of the Child Health Check Initiative (CHCI) Closing the Gap (CtG) program between August 2007 and June 2012.

“The good news is there have been improvements,” says AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

“For children who had more than one course of dental care, the overall prevalence for children with at least one oral health problem fell by 12 percentage points.”

Although open to all Indigenous children under 16 years of age living in prescribed communities, this program specifically targeted those who received referrals from their Child Health Checks.

“Over the course of the whole program, around 17,200 dental services were received by 9,300 children and 9,200 audiology services were received by 5,700 children,” says Dr Al-Yaman.

A further 3,800 ENT consultations were provided to over 2,600 children by the conclusion of the ENT component of the program in December 2010. Between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2010, 291 ENT surgeries were performed on 283 children.

At 30 June 2012, the majority of children who were on active CHC referral lists received follow-up services. The follow-up rates were 94 per cent for dental referral, nearly 100 per cent for audiology referral and 97 per cent for ENT referral.

The most significant oral health problem among children who received an oral health service was untreated caries (decay).


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