By Haseeb Uddin
Dr Farrukh Ejaz Raja is a graduate of Liaquat Medical College Jamshoro 1978. He has been associated as pioneer member since the time he graduated. When he moved to Islamabad he laid the foundation of PDA Islamabad and has been instrumental in arranging 2 international conferences last being in 2003.
Being a private practitioner he is committed to make a difference in the newly elected PM&DC by playing a positive role.
Dental News: What prompted you to participate in PM&DC elections?
Dr Farrukh Ejaz Raja (FER): I graduated from Liaquat Medical College Jamshoro 1978 and back then dental education was not much highlighted in comparison to medical education. Due to lack of awareness, oral health was always considered in last. Soon after graduation my friends and I wanted to work for this profession so that in future it can be chosen with pride. The concept of having a Dental Association was there in my mind since 1978. It was year 1984 when Dental Association came into being in Islamabad. We arranged number of National conferences including two International conferences where 20 international speakers participated. After serving this profession for so many years it feels good to see that BDS is now chosen as choice not an option. When PDC- Pakistan Dental Council came into existence in 1962, a lot was done for dentistry but the role of PMDC was not much positive towards us, as they couldn’t highlight the problems and difficulties of dentistry. There only I decided to enter this platform and filed for PM&DC elections.
DN: How were the elections this time?
(FER): This year elections were very fair and transparent, number of colleagues were elected out of which 5 dentist also got elected and 3 became executive council members. Elections were tough, competitive yet a lot of efforts and dedication made us win the Federal PMDC Elections from Islamabad with a sweeping mandate.
DN: What are your aims after winning election?
(FER): We aim to highlight dentistry nationally and internationally and fulfill the professional needs. More dentists will be involved for the betterment. There will be Dental Act and in future we hope to have a separate Dental Council to better address the issues faced by this profession.
DN: According to you why are we less of practicing dentist even after having great number of graduates?
(FER): There are 15000 to 16000 dental graduates in total but very few are practicing dentists as most of the seats are taken by girls on merit who later do not practice due to any number of reasons.
DN: What you have to say about quackery and what kind of role we playing in it?
(FER): Quackery has been there since ages even before Pakistan came into existence, but what matters right now is that it is reduced with time due to greater amount of awareness among population about health. If I talk about my profession these days patients are concerned about sterilization, instruments etc. According to laws quackery is not allowed in any field but as they say it’s all about implementation. If we focus on rural side of the country number of people opt for quacks for their treatment due to lack of knowledge, awareness & cost and its completely vice versa in urban areas therefore it will take some time to finish quackery. PMDC, regulatory bodies, healthcare commission Punjab, Sindh, KPK and Government are playing their role to reduce quackery to achieve healthy Pakistan.
DN: What do you think is the reason behind choosing dentistry as profession in much greater number than before?
(FER): These days students choose dentistry as their profession due to number of things especially I think what influence them is a good setup, environment and earning.
DN: What anti-quackery aims for?
(FER): Anti-quackery Dental Act aims to make people aware about oral health in better way so that quackery can be finished, and I believe media is playing a major role these days to create the right awareness.
DN: Are we promoting Dental Hygienist education if yes why isn’t it working out?
(FER): Dental institutes both government and private are now providing Dental Hygienist education to take one step further in the field of Dentistry but there is a major drawback we are facing these days. These hygienist consider themselves as dentist and open their on practice which is ethically and professionally wrong, one should stay in limits to work under the rules & regulations and laws.
DN: What is the role of regulatory body?
(FER): If we talk about Pakistan these regulatory bodies have a specific role for instance PMDC has been a regulating body since its inception, therefore we have a role to play right when the college starts till the batch graduates. We see if the college is capable or not to induct and teach students. If we talk about the procedure, new colleges are required to apply to healthcare regulatory bodies. Health regulatory send recommendations to PMDC and then only PMDC go to inspect the location, Board of Governors, teaching faculty, teaching facilities, allied hospitals and many other things. Seeing past records PMDC decided not to allow any more non healthcare professionals to open colleges. We have noticed that a businessman and land mafias investing in Medical and Dental Colleges, this at the end of day creates problems and disagreement surfaces among non-professionals and professionals. The outcome is closing of college which makes the students suffer. In future we plan to get this law registered by parliament through Government so that people with no healthcare background are allowed to become owners of any medical/dental college.
DN: Do you think PMDC should play a role in practice of pharmaceuticals and oral health companies which are undermining the profession?
(FER): Every department or sector has its role if we talk about PMDC we cannot go beyond our limits in fact every department should work under the rules.
DN: Is there any allocated budget for oral health?
(FER): There is no such budget allocated for oral health but around 2.5 percent can be used but personally speaking it’s very less and not utilized properly.
DN: There is a ban on smoking by government, but no such change is noticed?
(FER): Yes Government has applied rules and at times implementation maybe an issue but still individual health is the responsibility of individuals and it is urged that they do away with indulging in unhealthy habits for their own good health.
DN: What do you have to say about World Oral Health Day?
(FER): It’s a good approach to make people aware but at the same time I would like to tell that even our Dental Association has been working since 75/76 to educate people by organizing Dental Mela for public and celebrating health days in schools, universities and hospitals. We all should participate in such activities to create the desired impact.
DN: Any message on WOHD?
(FER): Public is still not much aware about oral health so keeping it simple I would advise to brush your teeth twice a day, it will save you from a number of
diseases. It’s better to be safe than sorry as treatment for any disease is expensive and can be preventable.