Health ministry to subsidize dental practices in remote areas

While the standard of dental care in the Czech Republic is considered to be high, getting a toothache in a remote area can be a serious problem. The health ministry has now unveiled a plan to subsidize dental practices in areas where dentists are few and far between.

Photo: Lenka ŽižkováPhoto: Lenka Žižková A visit to the dentist is not something any of us look forward to, but Czechs living in remote areas know there is a much worse scenario –not having a dentist close by when you are in need of medical attention. And the number of such places is surprisingly high. Although the country has more than 8,000 dentists –which is more than enough to cover its needs -53 percent of these practices are based in Prague and the big cities.

People living in remote areas have struggled with the problem for years, neglecting prevention and having to travel long distances to get emergency medical care when a problem arises. The mayors of some villages are offering huge cuts in rent for dentists who would be willing to establish a dental practice in the given locality, but many areas still remain without dental care.

The health ministry is now moving to change that. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch on Monday unveiled a plan to subsidize the establishment of dental practices in areas where they are badly needed.

“The aim of the program is to ensure dental care in all the regions, we would like to see dentists more evenly distributed around the country. In some remote areas dentists have an excessive number of patients and we want to bring the average number to below 2,000 which should enable dentists to provide quality care.”

Adam Vojtěch, photo: Jana PřinosilováAdam Vojtěch, photo: Jana Přinosilová In the course of the next four years the ministry plans to grant some 100 applicants 1.2 million crowns per person to help equip newly established dental offices in areas where they are needed. The dentist must guarantee to provide care in the locality for a minimum five year period, and have contracts with at least four health insurers.

Within two years the dentist must register at least 1,500 patients and provide 35 hours a week of dental and surgical care. A special commission is to be set up to decide on the allocation of the financial support.

The ministry launched a similar program for general practitioners in 2016. It was slow to take off the ground with just two applications in the first year, but is gradually picking up speed with twenty applications last year. The Czech Chamber of Dentists predicts it will take ten years to redistribute dentists around the country more evenly.