MULTAN -  The first national dental conference organised by the Nishtar Institute of Dentistry recommended yesterday that the government should take measures to provide oral health to poor people as more than one-third of Pakistanis do not have access to dental care.

Addressing the conference, Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi, Chairman Board of Management Nishtar Hospital and Medical College said that five major issues like banning quackery, improving education standards, school-based programme and medical aid programme for adults would have been initiated to ameliorate this crisis. He pointed out Pakistanis are living short and keeping no teeth in old age. As the elderly population increases, its oral health needs and ability to access care are garnering more attention.

Mr Roomi said that it is a good step that the first national dental conference was held in Multan by Nishtar Institute of dentistry and prominent scholars, researchers and dentists joined this conference to exchange their experiments and expertise. He stressed the need for launching an awareness drive for oral health to keep the society disease free. He said that there should be proper arrangement for the poor children particularly school-going children. He said that people, especially those belonging to underprivileged sections of society are forced to seek dental treatments from more than 40,000 non-qualified dental practitioners. Although these "quacks" offer easily accessible and affordable solutions to the painful dental problems of the poor patients, but in doing so they play havoc not only with their oral health but general health as well.

The experts stressed that a healthy public policy at national level alone can create a supportive environment for the communities to gain control over and improve their health. To translate such a policy into reality, reorientation of the healthcare system for focus on prevention, effective Dental Health Education (DHE) and Oral Health Promotion (OHP) is needed. This can be achieved by harnessing the power of the booming electronic media by advertisement against tobacco and betel use and for implementing laws like ban on smoking at public places and under-age sale, considering the fact that it is the most common cause of oral cancer in Pakistan.

Principal of NID Prof Dr Riaz Ahmed Warraich, Medical Superintendent Dr Ilyas Tanvir, Dr Amjad Bari and Dr Waqas Ahmed addressed the conference while a number of scholars read out their research papers.