Reforming dental education

The federal health minister and the new PMDC/PMC president recently took the decision to reduce the passing percentage for admission in dental colleges to 45. This decision is embarrassing; quality should be given preference over quantity. Dentistry is a manually dexterous oral healthcare profession and should not be treated as a second-grade healthcare profession.

There are certain reforms that should be introduced: the existing four-year BDS programme needs to be upgraded to a five-year DDS programme in line with the global trends. The mandatory seven dental specialties should be taught as teaching and examination subjects. We need to set up a separate Pakistan dental council, consisting only of dental academics. Such a council should have a status equivalent to the PMDC/ PMC to address our licensing policy and other matters. This PDC should have representation from all provinces and serve as an independent national regulatory body. All dental sections should be given a separate independent status as colleges, and should have dental faculty as its academic head/principal/dean and not any unrelated healthcare professional. The current in-service public-sector dental academics should be given leadership roles at all public-sector national dental academic platforms. There are reports that our BDS degrees are not recognized in Saudi Arabia and other countries. The remedy lies in upgrading the current programme to a five-year DDS programme.

Prof Shahjahan Katpar

Karachi

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