Assessment of Malawi’s oral health system
Overall assessment Very weak.
Inadequate and inequitable access to dental care Massive unmet need.
Limited accessibility to dental services - acute in rural areas where more than 80% of Malawians live.
Most dentists are based in cities.
Dental care is not affordable for most citizens.
Insufficient workforce Low oral healthcare workforce (43 dentists and 150 dental therapists to serve the 18.8 million population).
No dental school until 2019. New dental school has current first cohort graduating in 2023.
Poor recording of healthcare workforce at Medical Council of Malawi.
Inadequate infrastructure Countrywide dental equipment challenges and dental consumables stockouts, especially in rural areas.
Focus on curative rather than preventive approach There has not been a preventive oral health approach in Malawi
Previous annual weeklong oral and dental disease prevention program has not been hosted in recent years.
Curative treatment is dominant, with tooth extraction the most frequent procedure undertaken.
Limited advocacy and resources for oral health Limited representation of oral health discipline at senior decision-making levels.
Ministry of Health had no appointees with oral health as a primary responsibility.
No Chief Dental Officer or equivalent.
Limited resources made available to oral health.
Oral health policy work now in progress to address challenges.