Screening Children for Caries: An Ethical Dilemma in Nigeria

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Folayan, M.O.
Haire, B.G.
Adeniyi, A.A.
Adeyemo, W.L.
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Taylor & Francis
Dental caries is the main oral health challenge for children in Nigeria. Concern about its negative impact makes screening for caries in children an attractive public health strategy. The ability to detect the preclinical phase of caries, the availability of screening tools with high accuracy, and the possibility of treatment before onset of clinical symptoms with significant cost and health benefits, makes it appropriate for screening. However in Nigeria, the poor availability of highly specific and sensitive screening tools, poor access to oral health care and concerns with pre-screening consent, raise the question of the appropriateness of conducting screening programmes for children. We argue that a number of structural challenges associated with poor uptake of oral health care services need to be addressed before screening for caries can be considered ethically appropriate. These include facilitating access of children to quality oral health care and a systematic national approach to oral health implementation. Failure to address challenges associated with dental service utilization by children in Nigeria increases the risk of screening programmes promoting inequitable access to oral health care services.
Staff publications
Nigeria , Caries , Ethics , Screening , Research Subject Categories::ODONTOLOGY
Folayan, M.O., Haire, B.G., Adeniyi, A.A., and Adeyemo, W.L. (2018). Screening Children for Caries: An Ethical Dilemma in Nigeria. New Bioeth. Vol.24(2):135-149.