DERA GHAZI KHAN-Quacks especially non-qualified dentists are freely continuing practice in Dera Ghazi Khan and playing havoc with the people's health without fear of the implementation of law in collaboration with the health authorities.

Dental technicians and helpers work with dental surgeons at their clinics and treat the patients as qualified dentists in the city and rural area. Also in the rural health centres (RHCs), most of the dentists treat the patients in absence of dental surgeons. More than 100 quacks have full-fledged clinics in the district. Their boards display the words RMP (Registered Medical Practitioner), while in reality they do not have degrees in accordance with the rules of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).

Talking to The Nation, Dental Surgeon Mirza Saeed Baig said the villagers, who lack awareness, still think that tooth aches are caused by worms and the quacks cash in on their ignorance.

Dr Saeed added that some of the basic procedures done by quacks are extraction of teeth by using screwdrivers and pliers, using self-curing acrylic as restorative material, use of suction disc on palatal surface of maxillary complete denture to increase retention, self-curing acrylic resin in embrasure area for splinting, use of wires in removable partial denture and fixing them with adjacent teeth. Thus, they are playing havoc with the public health is a matter of serious concern.

"A many unqualified dentists are running their clinics successfully compared to the qualified dentists. There are 17,125 qualified dental surgeons including 11,039 females while 1,621 dental specialists including 556 females are registered with PMDC till December 2016. There is one registered dentist for every 11,678 people and one dental specialist for every 123,380 across the country," said Dr Mirza Saeed.

Talking to The Nation, Ghazi Khan Medical College Principal Shah Zaman Malik said quackery in dentistry is a problem since decades. "Although, most of them practice in villages, while cities are not less targeted at present. Authorities are reluctant to address the menace of quackery; consequently the business is flourishing leaps and bounds," he said. "These quacks often use the name of a qualified surgeon on their sigh-board to misguide innocent patients. The high cost of dental treatment, illiteracy, lack of awareness, poor accessibility to dental clinics and repeated dental appointments are the reasons for which most of patients rely on these quacks."

Dr Khalilur Rehman said the street dentists have become the major source of the spread of Hepatics B and C in the country. An estimated 20 million people in Pakistan are infected with hepatitis C or hepatitis B virus and the number of patients is continuously on the rise at an alarming rate while nearly 400 people die daily due to infection, he added.

The medical experts said that Punjab Healthcare Commission as well as District Health Authorities should take action against quacks.