Address by Governor at the National Oral Healthcare “SUSHRUTA” Awards function
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the National Oral Healthcare “SUSHRUTA” Awards function at Jade Hall, Sahar Star Hotel, Vile Parle, Mumbai at 1900 hrs on Friday, 12th October, 2018
Dr Kathryn Kell, President of FDI World Dental Federation, Dr. Deepak Makhijani, President of Indian Dental Association, Dr. Ashok Dhoble, Honorary Secretary General, Dr. Mohan, Chairman of IDA Foundation, invited guests, recipients of the Sushruta Awards, various stakeholders in dentistry, and friends,
Good evening and greetings to you.
I am indeed happy to associate myself with the presentation of the National Oral Healthcare ‘Sushruta’ Awards instituted by the Indian Dental Association under the aegis of the IDA Foundation.
‘Sushruta’, the ancient Indian Physician is often regarded the Father of Surgery in India. I congratulate all the recipients of the Sushruta Award for being selected for the prestigious Awards that bear the name of Sushruta.
It is extremely satisfying to note that those who are awarded today are working in as diverse fields such as community work, awareness creation, professional excellence, dental innovation, dental research, tobacco de-addiction and so on. I congratulate each one of you for your services to the nation and humanity at large.
The field of Dental Care has witnessed tremendous technology-driven advancements. We are witnessing revolutionary changes in dental technology. These technologies have improved diagnostic quality, patient comfort and efficiency in dental care. This is certainly a heart-warming development.
However, for a country of 1.25 billion people, with 60 per cent people living in rural areas, providing healthcare, in general, and oral healthcare, in particular, is indeed a challenging task in India.
Even though Oral health is essential to general healthy and quality of life, people do not accord due priority to oral health. According to me, there are three reasons. Oral diseases are not life threatening. Secondly, oral healthcare is not easily accessible to all. And last but not the least, oral healthcare is expensive. Not surprisingly, a majority of people live with oral problems and visit the dentist only when the pain becomes unbearable. This negligence makes matters complex.
Figures are alarming. Dental caries affect 60-80% of our children and gum disease affect nearly 90-95% of our population. Sometime ago, I had come across a survey which found that more than 90 per cent of school children in a city school suffered from dental problems. We cannot accept such scenario.
Access to oral health care is extremely limited and uneven. While there are a good number of dentists in major cities like Mumbai, the number is woefully small in tier 3 cities, towns and villages.
I will call upon IDA to give a serious thought to increase the availability of trained dentists in India. The quality of dental education and training you underwent during your student days has not remained the same. IDA should also monitor the quality of dental education that is offered by our colleges and universities and suggest course correction, wherever needed.
Access, Affordability and Excellence will improve the oral health care in the State and the country.
For a country like India, it is utmost necessary to strengthen public infrastructure for oral health care in all district hospitals, charitable, municipal and other public hospitals. We also need to promote ‘Make in India’ in the field of dentistry to bring down the cost of medical equipments.
Earlier this year, I was talking to a group of experts working in the area of healthcare in the remote areas of Maharashtra. I was shocked to know that school children, as young as 12 to 15 years of age, living in the Gadchiroli district, had become addicted to chewing tobacco, gutkha and scented supari.
Even though gutkha is officially banned in the State, people have devised new ways to package and sell gutkha illegally. There is an urgent need to prevent our future generation from falling into the trap of tobacco addiction.
Oral cancer is one of the major health challenges of the 21st century and India is also facing the major challenge of treatment and prevention of this disease. Dentists often are the first to detect any pre-cancerous developments in the mouth. Many families are ruined completely when one member of the family suffers from cancer. We therefore need a multi-pronged strategy, involving the government, NGOs and organisations like IDA to stop people from consuming tobacco in all forms.
As for the children, I will call upon IDA to explore the possibility of conducting compulsory dental check-up of all school children at the beginning of the academic year. We may educate the children about healthy food and how junk food is harmful to them.
Thanks to the legislation of Corporate Social Responsibility brought by Government of India, many companies have large amount of CSR funds for social causes. We may create modern mobile vans equipped with advanced equipments to provide quality dental care in rural and urban areas.
IDA deserves our compliments for its initiatives such as Oral Cancer Foundation, Tobacco Intervention Initiative and the latest, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Education and Research Centre and Super Speciality Dental Clinic in Mumbai.
I have great expectations from IDA and from this gathering of the best brains in the field of Oral Health Care. India needs game-changing innovations in Oral Health that would make oral health care affordable and accessible to all.
I congratulate all the recipients of the Sushruta Awards and wish the Indian Dental Association all success in its future endeavours.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!