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Mechanisms for Delivering Dental Health Services in Azerbaijan

Introduction
This article outlines various dimensions of dental health care available to the Azerbaijani population during 2007 and part of 2008. It draws mainly from data published by the Azerbaijani State Statistical Committee for the mentioned years. As of early 2008, Azerbaijan’s total population was around 8.63 million, nearly equally divided between males and females. Roughly half lived in urban settings, while the rest resided in rural regions. The country is geographically and economically segmented into ten zones and has a capital city named Baku.

Health Insurance Coverage
Azerbaijan’s public health insurance provides medical service coverage to all citizens at state-run health institutions. Specialized health care services are also available for specific professional groups. Private sector organizations offer their own health insurance plans to employees. The public insurance does cover dental care theoretically, outlining a range of treatments from preventive measures to oral surgery. However, some specialized treatments like dental implants are not covered. Patients can also seek services at private clinics where they need to pay out-of-pocket unless they have private insurance.

Dental Workforce
In 2007 and early 2008, there were 2,522 registered dentists, most of whom were actively practicing. Many also engaged in part-time private practice. From 2000 to 2007, 1,200 dentists graduated from the state dental school, and there was a noted increase in graduates from private dental schools as well. Currently, private dental schools have halted new admissions.

Dental Education
Dentists receive their education at the Dental Faculty of Azerbaijan Medical University. Students either receive government-funded education based on high entrance exam scores or pay their own tuition fees. After a five-year education program and a one-year internship, they are certified to practice. Ongoing education is required, involving a minimum of 220 hours of continuing professional education every five years. Dental technicians and nurses also receive specialized training, but there is no standard educational pathway for dental nurses.

Epidemiology and Costs
No comprehensive national epidemiological studies on oral health have been carried out in Azerbaijan. Some local studies indicate high rates of dental issues like caries among both children and adults. On the financial side, in 2007, about 4.3% of the public budget was allocated to health care, but the specific amount spent on dental care is not documented as many services are privately funded.

Lara Bakinsky DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry)

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