Srinagar, June 30: There has been no appointment of dental surgeons in Jammu and Kashmir’s health department over the past 13 years amid a shortage of dentists across public hospitals taking a toll on oral health care services.
The unemployed dental surgeons of J&K, who have passed their professional courses from dental colleges, recently wrote a letter to the government calling for creation of the posts.
“No dental surgeon post has been created by JKPSC since 2008. There is already a file pending in the civil secretariat which is doing rounds since the past seven years,” a delegation of unemployed dental surgeons told Rising Kashmir.
They said primary oral health care services have taken a hit due to inadequate facilities and poor manpower in rural hospitals like PHCs, CHCs, SDHs and district hospitals.
The unemployed dental surgeons have been struggling to find their means of living and many of them are thinking of leaving the profession to find their survival.
“Over the years the young students who want to make their career in dentistry are not showing any interest to join the dental colleges due to lack of certainty in jobs,” they said.
However, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department, Atal Dulloo said there are no clear cut vacancies of dental surgeons in hospitals.
“There are no vacancies. But we have to create posts for which we had asked the Finance Department many times but they have not approved it, ”he said.
Dulloo admitted shortage of dental surgeons in the hospitals and said the department wants to create dental surgeons posts on priority and will overhaul oral healthcare.
There are nearly 5000 Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) and around 500 Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) students in J&K who are unemployed due to lack of opportunities in the government sector despite shortage of dental surgeons.
“We moved many proposals to the government for creation of dental surgeon posts but the same is gathering dust in the department,” said a BDS student from Srinagar.
They had suggested appointing posts of dental surgeons and b-grade consultants but the finance department is pushing it back.
“We are suffering from mental trauma due to unemployment. There has been no development and the government is not citing any genuine reason, ”he said.
As per Directorate of Health Services Kashmir, there are 336 dental surgeons serving in 626 institutions which include 9 district hospitals, 50 SDHs, 232 PHCs and 335 NTPHCs.
An official of the health department said 90 percent of patient load is on public hospitals as oral health procedures are costly in the private sector as a result of which most of the patients end up seeking treatment from quacks thereby exposing them to risks.
President Society of Dental Surgeons J&K, Dr Imtiyaz Banday said at PHCs and NTPHCs there is a dearth of dental surgeons.
“Every year 200-300 students pass their degrees from Government Dental College Srinagar and Jammu. Their career is at stake as there are no opportunities, ”he said.
He said there is rampant quackery at peripheries which is a major cause of hepatitis-c but despite that creation of professional dental surgeons has been put on the back burner.
“At least there must be a dental surgeon at a PHC to meet the demand,” said Banday.
Banday, who works in a sub-district hospital in Budgam, said on an average they receive 100 patients daily and they hardly treat upto six patients while others have no option but to wait.
“We can’t do justice with patients. Patients are suffering. The government is yet to understand the need of dental surgeons. Oral health care has faced neglect in J&K, ”he said.
Due to shortage of dental surgeons patients are compelled to visit hospitals located far off places and private clinics for consultation which is unaffensible for poor patients.
According to norms, there should be at least two dentists in a Sub-District Hospital and for a Primary Health Center there must be a dental surgeon and an assistant.