Irfan Tramboo

Forgetting oral health services comes with a price

Forgetting oral health services comes with a price
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'Absence of manpower, infra leading to quackery'

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Srinagar: The maiden proposal for the creation of posts of dental surgeons submitted by the health department not only justifies the need for the creation of more posts for the speciality but also is aiming at addressing other dimensions of the oral care in the state in the absence of a comprehensive oral health policy.

While the government has been turning a blind eye towards the speciality by not creating enough posts for the dental surgeons who come out of various colleges in the state, the effects have been multipronged.

There is documented evidence that reveals that due to the lack of professionals and the infrastructure in terms of oral healthcare, especially in the rural areas, there has been a rise in quackery, which has, in turn, put the lives of patients at greater risk.

A survey carried out by the Health Department in the year 2013 states that 38% of the population in a village was found to be affected with Hepatitis C. The survey was carried out in Takia Magam, Kokernag after Hepatitis C breakout.

The research paper titled ‘Epidemic of Hepatitis C in a remote village of Kashmir, India’ states that there are no qualified medical practitioners in the village (while referring to Takia Magam, Kokernag), and the nearest hospital is a Community Health Centre Kokernag, nearly 9 km away.

“The villagers frequently seek health care from local unqualified pharmacists, locally known as “chemists” for minor ailments such as fever, pain, weakness, toothache, and there is a general preference for injections both intravenous and intramuscular over pills,” the paper states.

These chemist shops, the survey states in the conclusion, provide services not only for injections “but also for minor surgical procedures such as drainage of abscess, circumcision, suturing of wounds and dental extraction.”

On the similar lines, the proposal submitted by the health department for the creation of posts, while deliberating on other dimensions of the problem, states that the state was witnessing a surge in blood-borne diseases especially Hepatitis C “wherein injection drug use and improper sterilization has been found to be one of the main reasons for this epidemic.”

Experts are saying that what reflected in Takia Magam, can be true for the rest of the parts of the state, but it is not known yet.

“There is no large-scale survey in the state to know the baseline data regarding hepatitis C or other blood-borne pathogens,” a doctor said.

The numbers presented in the paper on Hep-C have revealed that there was a significantly high prevalence of Dental procedures among the patients suffering from Hepatitis C in the village.

“These acquired infections hike up the morbidity and mortality rates associated with these diseases along with huge financial burden, both to the affected family as well as the Government,” the proposal reads.

While referring to the Takia Magam, Kokernag survey, the proposal states that “38% of the village population was found to be affected with Hepatitis C. The significance of upgrading the oral health services is self-explanatory in the research paper.”

“…there was a significantly high prevalence of dental procedures among cases as compared to controls,” the paper concludes.

Further, in conclusion, the paper states that the use of safe injections and sterilized equipment during dental procedures is a necessity. At the same, it reads that “how much of infection was contributed to by use of unsafe injections and dental procedures and how much by the use of large volume diluents could not be ascertained.”

“With no infrastructure and no posts created for 10 years now, the PGs of dental sub specialities have less or no scope of delivering specialized oral health services,” a doctor said.


Irfan Tramboo

Irfan Tramboo is a reporter and covers education and health and can be contacted [email protected]

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