by Dr Muattar Hanif
Dr Kamran Ahmed Vasfy was conferred with the State Civil Award of Pakistan, Sitarah-e-Imtiaz in recognition of his services rendered to Dentistry by the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, in the ceremony held at President House on September 7th 2020.
Dr Kamran A Vasfy completed his undergraduate degree (BDS) from Lahore in 1972. He carried out further training in General Dentistry from the University of California Los Angeles 1978. He did MCPS (Member of College of Physicians and Surgeons) in Operative Dentistry in 1994. He was awarded Fellowship by American College of Dentists in 2002. He was president of Pakistan Dental Association (PDA) Central Council from 2001- 2005 and was conference secretary of the 1st and 3rd Pakistan International Dental Conference held in 1981 & 1987 respectively.
Dr Kamran was also Chairman of 5th Pakistan International Dental Conference in 1999 which was inaugurated by Mr Rafique Tarar, President of Pakistan at the time. He was elected as Secretary-General of South Asian Dental Associations Federation in 1993. Dr Kamran worked as a Dentist in PIA (Pakistan International Airline) Medical Division from 1975 to 2010 where he was Chief Dental Officer for 15 years.
For over 20 years, Dr Kamran Vasfy practised at private dental hospitals before he finally established his own dental clinic.
Dental News recently spoke to Dr Kamran about his efforts toward the positive representation of Pakistan on global and national dental platforms and about his contribution to the dental profession and community, in Pakistan.
Dental News: Please tell us about yourself, why you chose to become a dentist?
Dr Kamran: I was born in Karachi and completed my early education here. In 1964 we moved to Faisalabad, where I did my FSc In 1968 I got admission to de Montmorency College Lahore. Following the completion of FSc, there were only three choices whether to go for MBBS, BDS or B-Pharmacy. I missed my MBBS admission by a few marks and decided to go for BDS, which later proved to be a great decision.
I graduated as a dentist in1972. After completing my house job, I joined a private clinic in Karachi in 1973. I did my MCPS in 1993 and a course in General Dentistry from The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1978. I was awarded a fellowship by the American College of Dentists in 2002.
I joined PIA, Medical Division in 1974, where I worked till 2010 and retired as their Chief Dental Officer.
DN: You have been recently awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz in recognition of your services. What was your response, and how your family reacted?
DK: I was truly humbled. I don’t have words to thank Allah SWT. It is a great feeling to be recognised for your work and dedication to the profession. It goes without saying that my whole family was extremely excited and had planned to attend the ceremony, but unfortunately, due to COVID-19, they couldn’t attend.
DN: Your contribution to dentistry and major achievements during your tenure in PIA?
DK: When I joined PIA in 1974, they had only two dental clinics in Karachi with ancient pump type dental chairs and poor equipment. There were only two of us as dentists performing basic dentistry like fillings, scaling and extractions. I became head of the department in 1987. By the Grace of Allah when I retired, PIA had 5 full-fledged dental centres complete with modern dental equipment.
DN: You have played a pivotal role during your time in PDA as secretary-general and later as President. Please share more about your contributions during your time in office?
DK: I was elected as Secretary-General of PDA Karachi in 1979 and served for two terms. I was actively involved in establishing the PDA Central Council in 1984, together with my colleagues. This elevated the body from a regional establishment to a national representative body of dental surgeons. I was elected as the first Secretary-General of this prestigious organisation and also served as its president from 2001 – 2005. During my tenure as Secretary-General, PDA was introduced at an international level and became a member of the World Dental Federation, Asia Pacific Dental Federation and South Asian Dental Federation. I was also elected as General Secretary of the South Asian Dental Federation and served the office from 1993 to 1996.
My proudest achievement was my role in organising multiple international dental conferences in Pakistan. These conferences brought highly reputable international speakers and global experts to our country. This provided an opportunity for Pakistan’s dental community to acquire the latest knowledge and techniques that eventually helped in the overall growth of the dental profession in the country. In 1980 PDA organised dental health awareness programs for school children in Karachi that continued till 1984. I feel proud that I got the opportunity to be involved in the planning and execution of this project
In 1995, I was tasked by the then-president PDA, Dr Arif Alvi to establish dental health awareness programs for school children, throughout the country that continued till 1999. During this period, this program was implemented in 22 cities of Pakistan which reached thousands of school children. We also worked closely with organisations such as Al-Shifa Trust to help set up a free dental treatment centre for children with special needs.
DN: Which ideas were you able to work on, and what came in the way of successfully implementing them, since many such problems still exist even today?
DK: As elaborated earlier PDA has been successful on many fronts, but unfortunately lack of interest on the part of the community is worrying. Many dentists don’t become members of PDA or renew their membership. No organisation can flourish without the support of its members. We, as a community should provide complete support to PDA for the betterment of the profession.
DN: In your view, what are the main problems that agitate the dental profession?
DK: Lack of good jobs or opportunities, especially for fresh graduates. Most students move overseas for better opportunities. Unfortunately, that is not an issue faced by just our profession but our nation as a whole.
DN: What would you say about the underrepresentation of female dentists, considering how our dental schools are producing more female dentists than male dentists?
DK: This is a common problem not just in our country but worldwide. It is definitely something that should be recognised, and measures should be taken to provide more opportunities for female dentists. PDA should create a women’s wing who can work on facilitating women to reintegrate into the profession after starting a family and to support young aspiring female dentists to find pathways and support into the profession.
DN: Coming to dental education, where do you think our dental curriculum lacks if we compare it to dental studies abroad?
DK: There should be a board that regularly reviews the curriculum as it needs an overhaul. There is a big focus internationally on minimal intervention, digital technology, contemporary restorative and prosthetic materials, and we all need to update our knowledge in modern dentistry.
DN: Your views about Dental News and its contribution to the dental profession.
DK: Dental news has definitely served the profession in a big way. It is a great source of information for all of us on technical as well as personal level.
DN: Lastly, your message for young dentists and community as a whole.
DK: I have the following messages for young dentists and the wider dental community that there is no short cut in life. Always keep the patient’s best interest first and work ethically. Work hard and remain abreast with the latest developments in the profession. Regularly update your knowledge through Continuing Education Programmes as materials and techniques are evolving every day. Stay united and extend your full support to PDA.