Now, all the toothless grannies and grandpas of Kerala can grin heartily thanks to Kerala Social Justice Department’s sweet initiative that provides free teeth replacement surgeries to the elderly.
‘Mandahasam’ (which loosely translates to smile) is state-wide initiative to eliminate nutritional deficiency seen in the elderly who can’t chew their food. In Kerala, the elderly comprise 20% of the population.
“The scheme aims to reduce nutritional, physical and mental problems faced by the elderly people after losing teeth,” reads the programme's official page on the Kerala Social Justice Department’s site.
“We aim to provide full teeth replacement surgeries to members of BPL families who are 60 years of age and above. The applicants only need to produce a medical certificate to get a free set of teeth,” said Parameswaran P, District Social Justice Officer, Kozhikode.
Announced in November 2017, the initial phase of ‘Mandahasam’ is ongoing with applicants from several districts selected for surgeries this year.
“We put out ads in the regional newspapers and applications have been pouring in. We even received 50 applicants in Kozhikode itself. The applications will be reviewed by a panel comprising the District Social Justice Officer, District Medical Officer and a dentist approved by the Social Justice Department,” Parameswaran added.
Once the applicants are reviewed and finalized, they can seek treatment at any of the government or private hospitals listed under the scheme.
“The state government has set aside a big sum for the first phase of the scheme and each person would be eligible to avail replacement surgeries for Rs 5,000. We are even trying to rope in private hospitals and dental clinics as some government hospitals may not have adequate facilities, technicians and even equipment required for the surgeries,” he explained.
Currently, the Vadakara Taluk hospital and the Beach Hospital in Kozhikode have been roped in for the scheme in the district.
“Although the programme has only been planned for this year, we hope to make it a permanent scheme as we want more of our senior citizens to live healthy and smile more,” Parameswaran said.