Dentistry should be given its due place and 90% of dental diseases can be prevented-Dr. Arif Alvi


UHS signs 19 MOUs with Int. institutions, organizations during Dental Conference
Dentistry should be given its due place and
90% of dental diseases can be prevented-
Dr. Arif Alvi
Urges lady doctors to continue to practice while 
authorities should provide them flexible working hours
Dentistry will never develop unless they have their
separate Pakistan Dental Council-Prof.Javed Akram

LAHORE: Dentistry was my first choice and it has given me immense satisfaction. Dentistry must get its due place and almost 90% of dental diseases can be prevented by taking care of oral health. This was stated by Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan who himself is a distinguished dentist with postgraduate qualifications in orthodontics and Prosthodontics. He was inaugurating the First UHS-International Dental Conference held at Lahore from October 3-5th 2019 in collaboration with a number of institutions, organizations the prominently among them being the University of Lahore and Superior University Lahore. The conference attracted a large number of invited guest speakers from many countries besides dentists from all over Pakistan. The Theme of the conference was Collaborate, Innovate and Cure.

Continuing Dr. Arif Alvi said that we need to look into the needs of the people, what services they want away from dental colleges. Instead of concentrating on producing curative dentists, specialists, we need to give priority to prevention of dental diseases. He referred to the Chinese experience of barefoot doctors to provide primary care to their population and felt that we need to provide prevention and treatment facilities at grass route level. We must look at what people are getting and what they want. Sri Lanka solved this problem of provision of basic dental care by training dental technicians. He also referred to the required competencies of the graduating dentists and urged the healers to take the people away from dental diseases by giving preference to prevention. Caries and periodontal diseases are the most common dental diseases which can be effectively prevented.

Dr. Arif Alvi President of Pakistan presenting a memento to Mr. Awais Rauf Chairman
University of Lahore at the First UHS Dental Conference held at Lahore recently.
Picture also shows Prof. Javed Akram VC UHS
and Prof. Yasmin Rashid Punjab
Health Minister.

He recalled that some years ago he had prepared the Pakistan Dental Act and presented it to the then Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo but it was never implemented. He also had a go at the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council and the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan. He recalled that he earned postgraduate dental qualification of orthodontics and Prosthodontics from United States but these qualifications were never recognized by the PM&DC. He then wrote a very harsh letter to the then President of PM&DC Prof. Sultan Farooqui which later started postgraduate qualifications in different specialties of dentistry. He was of the view that dentistry deserve to be given its due place in Pakistan as an important specialty. He also disclosed that on his return from USA with postgraduate qualifications, he offered to teach free at the de’Montmorency College of Dentistry, was invited once but then they did not show any interest. We need to formulate the competency required from the graduating dentists so that the burden of dental diseases can be reduced. At the Asia Pacific Conference of Dentistry I read a paper which was very well received. President of Indian Dental Council suggested that let us publish it as a joint paper and we did publish it but in Pakistan again, nobody took its notice. He suggested that all the dental graduates must spend six months in community as a part of their training which will also promote community dentistry. In the West while 98% of breast cancer is prevented, in low income developing countries including Pakistan, almost 50% of breast cancer patients die since they are diagnosed at a very advanced stage. We need to create awareness about diseases. We do not have resources to provide curative services to the entire population, hence must concentrate on prevention of dental diseases. Let us all think what I can do and what I should do. Service to the community should be preferred as money does not bring happiness. He advised the lady doctors that they should never abandon to practice medicine and dentistry and don’t be content with getting good marriage proposals and getting married. He also urged the health planners to come up with flexible working hours for the lady doctors.

Earlier Dr. Arif Alvi was also unanimously elected as President of Global Dental Health Alliance which will have its secretariat at University of Health Sciences. It is also planned to compile a Dental Data Registry for Pakistan.

President of Pakistan Dr.Arif Alvi presenting a memento to Ms Sumaira Rector of Superior
University Lahore at the First UHS Dental Conference held at Lahore recently. Picture also
shows Prof. Javed Akram VC UHS in the centre.

Prof. Yasmin Rashid, Punjab Health Minister and Patron of the Conference in her address congratulated the UHS administration for holding the International Dental Conference the first of its kind. Oral health, she said, is very important that we need to look after the oral problems of the population by improving the existing facilities. Health services in Punjab are being improved; we must take care of dental hygiene. A pilot study conducted among ten thousand school children showed that their oral health was not satisfactory. In School Health Service we are giving emphasis on child health and nutrition which has special focus. Dental sciences are very important. We are planning to appoint dental surgeons all over the province at Tehsil and District Hospitals. In School Health Service regular dental check up will be ensured apart from Eye and ENT check up. The new building of the de’Montmorency College of Dentistry will also be completed shortly, she remarked.

Prof. Javed Akram Vice Chancellor of University of Health Sciences in his speech said that they are giving importance to patient centric, cost effective healthcare. We are also promoting research culture and so far UHS researchers have synthesized twenty seven proteins. Federal Minister of Science and Technology has promised to set up a Biotechnology Plant at Jhelum to ensure their commercial production. In Pakistan, we have one dentist for 1.4 million populations. Quackery in dentistry is rampant. The dental graduates leave the country and there is lot of brain drain and no brain gain which needs to be looked into. We also need to improve the quality of dental education and ensure that we have good human beings which will make them good doctors. If the healthcare professionals fall in love with their profession, they will never get tired. He hoped that with this conference, dentistry will get more importance and we will have many students who will take up dentistry as their first choice. The theme of the conference if Collaborate, Innovate and Cure and we are lucky to have active collaboration of all the two other public sector medical universities i.e KEMU and FJMU besides University of Lahore in the private sector as well as Superior University Lahore. Dentistry, he opined, will never progress and get its due status unless they have their own separate independent Pakistan Dental Council. At present they have one or two seats in the PM&DC and they are always ignored while taking important decisions. He laid emphasis on community based dental education and starting Dental School Health Programme.

Prof. Javed Akram further stated that many dentists who come back from overseas after postgraduate training and qualifications seldom join the dental colleges but they concentrate on private practice. This has resulted in acute shortage of dental faculty which has affected the quality of dental education, he remarked. We need to educate the public to seek dental care from qualified dental practitioners instead of going to dental quacks which is only possible once the dental care is cost effective and affordable. He also highlighted the importance of forensic orodontology which plays an important role in identification of dead bodies.

Dr. Saima Chaudhry moderated this session while Dr. Sara Ghafoor presented vote of thanks and thanked all the individuals, members of the organizing committee, medical institutions and trade organizations which extended their valuable help and assistance to make the conference a success.

Inviting a VVIP at the conference did create lot of problems as the participants had to wait for too long for security clearance, many delegates even could not come in. Even the Punjab Health Minister Prof. Yasmin Rashid also got delayed. Earlier some unpleasant incidents were averted by timely intervention of Dr. Saima Chaudhry who was to moderate the inaugural session when one of the speakers had an exchange of harsh words with some security and media people sitting in the audience who were constantly making noise and disturbing the speaker. The organizers must give it a serious thought whether it is at all advisable to invite the politicians and Government functionaries at such academic functions. Instead they will be well advised to invite and honor their own colleague’s academicians with known accomplishments. A dinner was hosted in honour of the visiting foreign delegates and important faculty members, organizers at the Governor House but the Governor of Punjab could not make it as his plane could not land at Lahore. Prof. Javed Akram VC UHS signed over a dozen Memorandum of Understandings with various international medical institutions and organizations for collaboration in medical education and research on this occasion. Twenty nine Pre-Conference workshops on various important topics were also organized at various medical and dental institutions at Lahore and Multan on October 2, 2019 where some eminent dentists from overseas also operated upon patients which was shown live to the trainees.(Detailed report to follow) Time management was extremely poor throughout the conference, the speakers did not adhere to their allotted time and the chairpersons also did not interrupt them, perhaps they were sleeping with the result that the speakers went on and on till they were sent a chit by the organizing committee to wind up their presentation. An advanced Dental Sciences Session was also organized at Lahore Medial & Dental College on Sunday October 6th 2019.