Competency refers to a set of skills, abilities, knowledge, understanding, and professional values that enable a person to act effectively and efficiently in a particular profession or job. One can achieve competency through training and experience in their field of work. Policy competency, thus, refers to coming up with a course of action that is both effective and efficient, and having the right people with the right skills and abilities to implement this course of action. Policies should meet the needs of the people as it is intended.
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In dental public health, there are policies set by the government, private organizations, and various bodies in the sector. These policies aim at promoting dental health of the community as well as preventing and controlling dental diseases. As such these policies should be competent and capable of improving the oral health and hygiene as well as the well-being of the community.
The American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD) is an organization that focuses on improving the oral health of all individuals. One of its main policies is the policy on the Institute of Medicine. This policy aims at strengthening the dental education in the United States through research and public health programs, and by supporting dental health institutions (Longest, 2010). One way it has achieved this is by supporting student chapters across the United States as well as supporting the National Oral Health Conference each year. This is an excellent example of a competent policy that helps improve education which is one of the ways to improve oral health in our country.
Public policy making is a process that has several stages. It all starts with the identification of the problem and defining it. After identification of the problem, the next step is very crucial in policy making. This is the agenda-setting stage. This stage is where the idea needs to be sold to the public and the government. There is an extensive list of agendas to be considered, hence, the idea must make it through the different levels of the political structure. If the problem makes it past the agenda setting stage, the policy formulation starts. The policy must be authorized and refined through the process of bureaucracy. Then a budget is set, and the project is implemented. It is also crucial to evaluate the policy frequently since it will enable identification of new problems that require new regulations.
In the Dental Public Health (DPH) sector, the process of policy formulation is the same as the public policy process. Greater emphasis is placed on the agenda-setting stage. Selling the ideas to the authorized decision makers is key to the life of a policy. Since individuals may not possess the required detailed knowledge, the various dental associations and organizations are best suited to agenda setting (Longest, 2010). This advantage is because they understand the policy making process, and they are well positioned to push the agenda to the authorized decision makers, who are in most cases government institutions.
Agenda setting is critical in the policy making process. The health sector faces numerous challenges and problems. Therefore, without a comprehensive way to sort and prioritize these challenges, public health would be at a standstill. By being able to evaluate the ideas and prioritize them accordingly, we can solve the pressing problems first. Also, since policy making is mostly a political process, dental associations are better placed to identify problems, and then convince the government or relevant organization to formulate policies as required. As seen in the AAPHD interim policy on IOM report, AAPHD adopted this policy because the IOM lobbied for reforms in dental education in the United States (Longest, 2004). After the IOM had done a comprehensive study, then presented a detailed report with policy recommendations, the AAPHD was convinced to adopt this policy.
The AAPHD also strongly advocates for the improvement of total health for all citizens. They advocate that new health reforms should be at the top of the list of policies to be made by the administration and Congress. Improvements in the oral health systems should be considered a crucial part of the overall health reforms since general health and oral health go hand in hand. Oral health should also be affordable to all citizens and should not be seen as a privilege of the wealthy. There should be increased investment in the community on programs that promote oral health such as, fluoride programs, tobacco control, and oral health awareness. The AAPHD also proposes that more resources should be allocated to train the dental public health workforce, and in research for better health service delivery and prevention of oral diseases. The government should also examine and evaluate the responsibilities and activities of dental public health officers at the state level. This will help improve monitoring of oral health at this level.
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In a broader perspective, we need to promote a healthy lifestyle that emphasizes proper oral hygiene. The associations and organizations in the DPH together with the government have the responsibility to formulate and implement policy geared towards achieving this goal. As the citizens of this country, we need to take care of our environment and efficiently use the natural resources. For instance, clean drinking water is crucial for good oral health. We must, therefore, preserve our surroundings and address issues of climate change to ensure future generations have access to clean water and a healthy environment that promotes good health and wellbeing.
Longest, Jr., 8. 8. (2010).Health Policymaking in the United States. (5th Ed.}.Chicago, IL: Health Administration Press. ISBN: 978-1567933543 E-Book ISBN 978-1567935189.
Longest, Jr., 8. 8. (2004).Managing Health Programs And Proj Ects. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-8ass. ISBN: 978-1118076538.