It was recently in the news that the federal government with a view to improving working of health institutions operating in the Islamabad capital territory is actively considering establishment of Islamabad Health Authority. In the forum there was a viewpoint to upgrade dental health by increasing the duration of bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) to five years and add seven new subjects, including behavioural health, bioethics and research methodology to its curricula. It is noteworthy that some if not all these subjects are already part of the teaching to BDS students.
Also, before simply adding 7 subjects and a year more – the subjects that are already being taught at the institutions need to be upgraded as the current taught courses lack the presentation of a course structure, key course objectives, leaning outcomes and most importantly, grading criteria based on which the students are graded.
Once a policy is formulated only then the policy makers should even think of adding another year to the programme, as this is only an exercise to put more financial burden on already burdened parents.
Staring a pilot programme with government universities maybe a good way to test waters, however nobody talked about the trained faculty, hence the priority is to increase duration with regard to quality teaching and above all the teachers. There has been a dearth of teachers in dentistry and hardly any institution can claim to have complete faculty as per PM&DC guidelines.
It is a strange logic to prepare our graduates for international market place when the government invests heavily on making of one dentist. Who makes these policies I wonder as they need to be Pakistan focused first. With ever increasing number of dental institutions in the last 7 years with exorbitant fees, at times more than PM&DC recommended, and no policy for jobs for dentists in Pakistan, it is certainly a wrong priority to begin with.
To bring dental education in Pakistan at par with international standards, we have to raise the standards of teaching and develop state-of-the art infrastructure rather than just increasing the duration of the programme. There will be no added advantage for those getting 5 years DDS from Pakistan as they will still have to go through the same processes if they wish to study in other countries for their masters.
Interestingly the BDS from Pakistan is recognized in all the countries of the world and with regards to lateral entries that is on bilateral ties and not based on duration of the studies.
It is heartening to see someone suggesting a separate Dental Council from PMDC with a separate budget as that is the need of the hour and not the duration of the programme.
After the 18th amendment I wonder what purpose the establishment of Islamabad Health Authority since health is now a provincial subject.