Strategies for the State Health Department

Fostering the development of health programs in specific areas is a significant challenge for any country. While the activity of international health organizations, for instance, the World Health Organization, substantially contributes to health promotion all over the globe, it is equally important to set goals in the national and local contexts. Healthy People’s goals cover numerous spheres including dental health (Issel, 2013). This paper considers three strategies within the State Health Department that may be efficiently used to meet the following objective: “Increase the proportion of oral and pharyngeal cancers detected at the earliest stage” (Healthy People 2020, n.d., par. 17). It is vital to join forces on three levels: medical education, dental care, and patient education.

From the very beginning, it is necessary to teach undergraduate dentists properly. As the oral cancer content of most curricula fails to provide consistent knowledge, theoretical instruction should be improved (The Oral Cancer Foundation, n.d.). Another step is to teach students to perform an examination and accustom them to using this procedure in their routine practice. What the State Health Department can do is to initiate a discussion with the Department of Education and suggest new educational standards that include oral cancer detection training as a matter of actual practice. In terms of legislation, students should demonstrate oral examination techniques to obtain their license. This project will be supported because its goal is relevant to that of the Department of Education: to raise the quality of training.

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Studies demonstrate that only 3% of practitioners note an oral cancer screening examination of patients at high risk (The Oral Cancer Foundation, n.d.). To counteract this emerging trend, the State Health Department should address the principle of life-long learning and encourage dentists’ participation in professional conferences and further education programs. Organizing free online courses will help facilitate learning and save time. In addition, dentists should be provided with the necessary material. It is reported that the educational supplies dealing with oral cancer and associated techniques have been developed: an overview of the literature on oral cancers, a video, leaflets, and a poster are included (The Oral Cancer Foundation, n.d.). However, there is no guarantee that practitioners have access to such information. To reach the target audience, the Health Department may cooperate with medical journals and send publishing requests. Presumably, specialists will seize the opportunity to improve their knowledge and perform their duties better.

The problem of public unawareness is pressing: the majority of people cannot distinguish symptoms of oral cancer and its risk factors (The Oral Cancer Foundation, n.d.). Within the ambit of collaboration with the Department of Education, it is necessary to obligate schools to educate children about oral cancer prevention and warning signals. Textbooks and other materials should be thoroughly revised. As for the whole population, a preventive examination should be proposed to those who go for usual primary care. Further, alcohol, smoking, and chewing tobacco are recognized as the key risk factors for oral and pharyngeal cancers (The Oral Cancer Foundation, n.d.). Although people are partly familiar with their harmful effects, anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol campaigns should concentrate on the least known consequences. The State Health Department is likely to run such campaigns. Thus, it will be easier to work within the organization, and several goals will be achieved simultaneously.

To sum up, oral and pharyngeal cancers should be detected as early as possible. In this respect, appropriate medical training, practitioners’ knowledge enhancement, and patient education will be the most effective strategies designed by the State Health Department.

References

Healthy People 2020. (n.d.). Oral health. Web.

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Issel, L. M. (2013). Health program planning and evaluation: A practical, systematic approach for community health (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

The Oral Cancer Foundation. (n.d.). Health promotion in oral cancer prevention and early detection. Web.

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