The Pakistan Dental Association (PDA) warned that the availability of dentists in small towns and rural areas of the country had become so much dismal that fatal oral diseases among their populace could spread like an epidemic if due measures would not be taken on an emergency basis.
The office-bearers of PDA addressing a press briefing recently at Karachi Press Club informed that in Karachi, a dentist is available for every 5,000 people as the situation is similar in other big cities like Lahore and Islamabad. But when we go to the faraway district of Tharparkar, not a single dentist is available for a section of the population as big as 200,000 people
Dr. Mahmood Shah, President PDA said that the situation of availability of dental treatment services in rural and far-flung areas of the country had been going from bad to worse with each passing year instead of improving owing to the completely indifferent attitude of the relevant public health authorities.
He said that dentist-population ratio in Pakistan had been alarmingly uneven across the country as it fluctuates heavily between urban and rural areas as these statistics are far below than the standards of public health services set by the concerned global agencies like the World Health Organization. One of the means to rectify this situation is opening of dental colleges in small towns of the country as these institutions of dental education should not be just confined to the big cities. He said that another mean could be proper activation of rural health centres of the provincial governments as dental surgeons should be recruited for placing them at these RHCs for the provision of the much-needed dental health services to the villagers.
He further said that such measures had to be taken to extend the dental care services across the country as oral cancer had become the second most recurring form of cancerous diseases in Pakistan after lung cancer. Various forms of chewable tobacco and other hazardous chewing stuff like Gutka, Mainpuri, betel nuts, Supari, were being consumed in the society unchecked as this social epidemic is equally affecting large cities, city suburbs, small towns, and rural areas. He said that early screening and diagnosis of a case of oral cancer could ensure its complete treatment; otherwise, it could prove fatal for the patient if the case was not timely referred to a qualified dental surgeon.
Prof. Dr. Nasir Ali Khan, Secretary General PDA said that apart from oral cancer, other dental ailments were easily preventable as that required adoption of good oral hygiene practices since the childhood days. Brushing of teeth is compulsory with any of the toothpaste containing Fluoride. That is the most fundamental oral hygiene practice, which should be adopted by all on a daily basis as a norm of their routine life. He said that among children the most common oral health ailment was of tooth decay or dental caries whereas among the adults the common dental problem was of gum or periodontal disease. The most common oral health issues could effectively be prevented by adopting good hygiene practices. Tooth brushing of teeth twice a day is a compulsory practice for everyone, he said.
On the occasion, Dr. Asif Arain, Dr. Anwar Saeed also spoke on the occasion.