KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is seeing an increase in dentists in the next five years, which will lower the dentist-patient ratio to 1:3,000 by 2018.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the current ratio of 1:5,100 (one dentist per 5,100 citizens) would be improved to that if the nation continued to produce about 1,100 dentists each year.
“In terms of dentists across Malaysia, we are producing a lot of dentists.
“For a long time, we had produced about 600 to 700 dentists a year, but this year we are producing 1,100.
“We will probably produce 1,100 or 1,200 dentists for the next four to five years,” he said in his speech at the opening of the International College of Dentists (ICD) Asia-Pacific Congress and Trade Exhibition 2016 at a hotel here yesterday.
Dr Subramaniam said about 600 to 700 dentists came from 13 local dentistry schools (six government and seven private) while the rest were from institutions abroad.
The higher number, he said, would be a challenge in terms of placement for the dentists and providing quality training for them.
“We have the talent. We will train them for one year in the public sector and find suitable places for them,” he added.
Dr Subramaniam also revealed that about 75% of schoolchildren had dental caries.
“(Dental caries) is a precursor to many future dental problems. Towards this end, the ministry has embarked on many programmes to address this issue, including Doktor Muda, a peer influence programme that promotes health,” he said.
Later, Dr Subramaniam was conferred an honorary fellowship by ICD in recognition of his “outstanding and tremendous contribution towards oral health”.
In his acceptance speech, Dr Subramaniam said despite great achievements in oral health, problems still persisted in many communities all over the world, particularly among underprivileged groups.
Dr Subramaniam has joined the ranks of past award recipients, which include Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, a former Health Minister.
Also receiving the honorary award yesterday was Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
ICD hosted its second Asia-Pacific Congress and Trade Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.
The three-day function, which ends today, assembled over 20 world-class speakers and more than 600 delegates from all over the world.