THERE has been a low turnout of patients visiting the dental clinic of a hospital in Vanua Levu compared to the high turnout for community free clinics.
The clinic at Nabouwalu Hospital noted the decrease following the introduction of the dental fees of $11.50 per extraction and $5 for a check-up last year.
Tui Wainunu Ratu Orisi Baleitavea said high cost of transportation or non-availability of transport also contributed to the low turnout.
"So it will mean paying extra now compared to before. People will have to take care of transport costs and the dental fees as well, so most prefer to wait for the free clinic in villages," he said.
"We do know that a lot of villagers attend the free community clinics that are held around their areas."
Health Ministry spokesman Peni Namotu said for areas with limited income opportunities, such a trend could be expected.
He said the fees were introduced to cushion the high costs of dental medication and equipment.
Mr Namotu said the government had used a lot of money on such expenses over the past years.
On the high turnout at community clinics, Mr Namotu said the ministry would continue to serve the community.
"It is good to note that they also turn out in high numbers at community level. We will continue to reach out to hold clinics including dentals at villages and settlements.
"However, we also urge people to take some responsibility and ownership in looking after their lives and health."