ISLAMABAD — The country currently only has one dentist for every 200,000 people, while according to the WHO, Pakistan should have one dentist for every 20,000.
There are only 8,500 practicing dentists across Pakistan who in theory at least, must treat various forms of dental disease afflicting some 95 per cent of the population. Meanwhile, there is currently no national public health plan on oral hygiene and dental care.
These startling facts were revealed at a symposium on “Restorative Dentistry: Bridging the gap for a promising future”, organised by the Islamabad Medical and Dental College recently. Around 120 dental health experts from across the country attended the symposium and shared their expertise and opinions.
There has been a rapid increase in the number of medical and dental colleges in the country over the past decade and there are currently 38 dental colleges across the country – 11 public and 27 private. Every year, Pakistan produces around 3,000 dentists from these colleges, speakers said, adding “The government spends Rs5 million on one dentist and in the private sector, one student pays around Rs600,000 per year.”
They said in spite of the fact that the government giving huge amount of subsidy on the cost of education, still there is a shortage of doctors. One of the reasons behind this is that enrolment in dental colleges is dominated by women, but around 70 per cent of qualified female dentists chose not to practice after graduating, they pointed out.
“The government should get a bond signed by each student stating that after qualifying, they must provide their services in this field for at least five years,” the symposium resolved, deploring that dental departments at government hospitals are unable to properly treat patients due to the load of patients.