Demographics of Kenyan Dentists under the predevolved system of government; A Dental Workforce Study.
Objective: The main aim of this study was to analyse the supply and demographic characteristics of the dentists’ population in Kenya prior to the 2013 decentralization of health workforce management to the County governments.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of Kenyan dentists who were practising as at 2013. Demographic data was obtained from the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists’ Board and the Ministry of Health annual retention registers. These data were integrated and analysed in Microsoft Excel 2016.
Results: The number of dentists in Kenya has exponentially risen over the years although the growth seems to have slowed down in the last decade. Majority are male, but the gender gap is rapidly decreasing. Most of the dentists studied were below the age of 40 years (M=39.8, SD=11.9); were general practitioners (79.3%) with local undergraduate training (76%) and were predisposed towards private practice. The results show a chronically deficient, relatively aging dental specialist population (M=46.4years, SD=9.1).
Discussion: The supply of dentists and dental specialist in Kenya, especially in the public sector is still deficient. This has impeded accessibility to quality oral health care services in a population experiencing a rise in oral disease. Studies have also shown that gender differences have an impact on dental practice.
Conclusion: There is urgent need to develop strategies that will increase and retain the number of qualified dentists and specialists in government facilities. It remains to be seen whether devolution will fast track the desirable changes in oral health service delivery.