Representatives of faculties of dentistry and agencies working to improve the oral health of groups with restricted access to dental care were invited to address the access and care symposium held in Toronto in May 2004. They told of their clients" sometimes desperate needs in graphic terms. The agencies" response ranged from simple documentation of the need, to expression of frustration with current trends and the apparent indifference of policy makers, to the achievement of some success in arranging alternative models of care. The presenters consistently identified the need to change methods of financing dental education and both the financing and models of care delivery to meet the needs of those with restricted access to oral health care.
The objective of this study was to explore access to dental care for low-income communities from the perspectives of low-income people, dentists and related health and social service-providers. The case study included 60 interviews involving, low-income adults (N = 41), dentists (N = 6) and health and social service-providers (N = 13). The analysis explores perceptions of need, evidence of unmet needs, and three dimensions of access--affordability, availability and acceptability. The study describes the sometimes poor fit between private dental practice and the public oral health needs of low-income individuals. Dentists and low-income patients alike explained how the current model of private dental practice and fee-for-service payments do not work well because of patients' concerns about the cost of dentistry, dentists' reluctance to treat this population, and the cultural incompatibility of most private practices to the needs of low-income communities. There is a poor fit between private practice dentistry, public dental benefits and the oral health needs of low-income communities, and other responses are needed to address the multiple dimensions of access to dentistry, including community dental clinics sensitive to the special needs of low-income people.
We report findings from a multi-method study investigating drug injectors' access to needles and syringes in three large Russian cities (Moscow, Volgograd, Barnaul).
We undertook 209 qualitative interviews among drug injectors, and supplemented these with baseline data from a community-recruited survey of 1473 drug injectors.
Almost all (93%; 1277) injectors used pharmacies as their main source of clean injecting equipment, and only 7% (105) reported ever having had contact with city syringe exchange projects. Good access to syringes has coincided with the expansion of private pharmacies. Key factors contributing to pharmacy access included: geographic proximity; low cost; and the restrictive policies of exchange instituted at local syringe exchanges. A fear of police interference surrounded the use of pharmacies and syringe exchanges, and fed a reluctance to carry used needles and syringes, which in turn acted as a disincentive to syringe exchange attendance. The perceived benefits of syringe exchanges over pharmacies included the additional health services on offer and the social support provided, but these benefits were over-shadowed by disadvantages. Multivariable analyses of survey data in two cities show no differences on account of risk behaviour among injectors sourcing equipment from pharmacies compared to syringe exchanges.
HIV prevention coverage indicators need to include measures of pharmacy-based syringe distribution and not only measures of syringe exchange coverage. There is an urgent need to pilot pharmacy-based distribution and exchange projects in Russia as well as other forms of secondary syringe distribution. Alongside expanding the reach of dedicated syringe exchange projects, pharmacy-based syringe distribution, and exchange, may help improve coverage of cost effective HIV prevention measures targeting drug injectors.