J Dent Hyg Sci.  2021 Mar;21(1):63-69. 10.17135/jdhs.2021.21.1.63.

The Utilization of Dental Hygienists in Oral Healthcare Exchanges between the South and North Korea

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dental Hygiene, Daejeon Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon 35408, Korea
  • 2Department of Dental Hygiene, Suwon Science College, Hwaseong 18516, Korea
  • 3Department of Dental Hygiene, College of Medical Science, Konyang University, Daejeon 32992, Korea
  • 4Department of Dental Hygiene, Baekseok University, Cheonan 31065, Korea
  • 5Department of Dental Hygiene, Shinsung University, Dangjin 31801, Korea

Abstract

Background
This study aimed to identify the role of dental hygienists in exchanges between North and South Korea to lower gaps in the level of dental healthcare between the two countries by conducting a Delphi survey with specialists and identifying alternative policies regarding the utilization of dental hygienists in such exchanges.
Methods
Two Delphi surveys were conducted with the participation of nine specialists, and descriptive statistical analyses including mean and standard deviation were performed on the collected data.
Results
Among methods of exchange and cooperation regarding oral healthcare under the current North Korean medical system, the issue considered most urgent was the “establishment of oral healthcare infrastructure.” The most important short-term strategy was identified as the “selection and formation of partnerships in the field of inter-Korean oral health exchange and cooperation.” The mid-term strategy was identified as the “establishment of cooperation in the dental industry, centered on educational cooperation projects.” The long-term strategy included “joint R&D projects, oral health surveys, and business development.” In order to determine how best to use dental hygienists during inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation, the respondents placed urgency on the “establishment of joint cooperation projects for oral health promotion and early examination and the treatment of dental diseases and planning of community research projects” and “the role of oral health education and media development for residents.” Conclusion: Cooperation is necessary regarding the preparation of oral healthcare exchanges that aim to encourage unity between North and South Korea and reduce the gaps between the North and South regarding oral health conditions. Therefore, continuous and reasonable discussions and research are needed regarding the utilization of dental hygienists in such exchanges.

Keyword

Dental care; Dental hygienists; North Korea; South Korea
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