Sorry for the state of oral health at J&K
Dr Javaid Ahmed
J & K’s projected population in 2021 is estimated at around one crore fifty lakh and the total workforce of dentists in the public sector is only 540. About each dentist serves the needs of about 28,000 people.
It has been shown that at any given time, around 5% of people need dental treatment at various levels, from sensitivity to major procedures. This means that around 1,400 out of 28,000 people will need treatment at a time and that one dentist cannot handle such an influx of patients.
Where are these patients going?
Well, considering our social norms, self-prescribing is most often the way to go, people with toothache go to a medical store for pain relievers, antibiotics, vitamins, and those quacks, in fact, prescribe even more in supplements. A few others go to dental charlatans and they do the same.
People need to understand the importance of health and the impact of drugs on their bodies. Unnecessary prescriptions lead to a myriad of health problems, a simple pain reliever can damage their kidneys, can damage their stomach, liver, etc. Likewise, antibiotics are the most widely used drugs. Even for minor dental ailments, antibiotics are consumed, which not only develops multidrug resistance, but also increases out-of-pocket expenses.
Worse yet, quacks give a number of corticosteroids to patients which have tremendously resulted in kidney failure, a weakened immune mechanism, and subsequently due to a weakened immune system a body can invite minor infections that can occur. transform into major tragedies.
Ban dental charlatans
People who are not allowed to treat are called charlatans. Even the Indian Dental Council Act-1948 prohibits any unauthorized practice. Even dental technicians are non-operative staff, nowhere in their curriculum is it written that they can do treatments, nor does any dental college even allow them in their training. However, they are an integral part of medical and dental teamwork and have an important role to play.
But a quack in the literal sense means complete informal entities who have learned only a few procedures from doctors by observation or after obtaining false certificates by fraudulent means for the practice. Most dental clinic sweepers, receptionists, clinic boys, etc. are among those charlatans who travel to rural areas and establish dental clinics and experimental laboratories.
Lack of basic knowledge of medical science, inadequate sterilization and lack of basic understanding of human anatomy, physiology of these charlatans become a major threat to people. Outbreaks of hepatitis B, C and other blood borne diseases are few major disasters that can occur in these clinics.
Why no regulation?
There are no regulations on these people at J&K, while other states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala have already banned them. The government has to understand that health care is a very delicate thing to manage, to understand the functions of the body takes years, blood and sweat. The way the medical field is regulated, we expect the same in the dental field. Medical assistants cannot do surgery, cannot prescribe drugs, the same applies to dental technicians, but the hierarchy of work and the assortment of statuses are not well developed in dentistry.
Over the past 13 years, the government has failed to create even one position for dental surgeons. Each year, approximately 400 dental graduates are added to the pool and approximately 7,000 to 8,000 are currently unemployed. PSC, CHC, sub-district and district hospitals are facing the crisis of dental mismanagement; people prefer to go to dental quacks for treatment due to the unavailability of dental doctors. The government must create PSC positions, NHMs, dental health programs in dental schools, so that an energetic and viable demographic dividend is protected and preserved.
(The author is a dental surgeon)