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Mon 17 Sep 2007 01:43 PM

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Clinics fail on prevention

Private sector dentists are failing on preventive care, a senior government official has said, leaving public sector clinics to shoulder the burden.

Private sector dentists are failing on preventive care, a senior government official has said, leaving public sector clinics to shoulder the burden.

Speaking exclusively to Middle East Dentist, Dr Nasser Malik, assistant director for dental services at Dubai's Department of Health and Medical Services (DoHMS), suggested the poor revenue associated with preventive care is encouraging private clinics to cut corners.

"Unfortunately, with preventive care, it is costly and the return is very low so it is undertaken by the government and not the private sector," he said. "It is difficult for a private dentist to spend half an hour educating a patient when he could be doing something else getting money."

Previously, discrepancies in the DoHMS complaints process meant it was difficult to report dentists for neglecting preventive care, Malik added. Patients presenting at public sector clinics after clinical errors had little form of recourse.

"As an endodontist, I would see some bad cases but there was no official body to handle malpractice complaint," Malik said. "We could not initiate anything against these people, unless the patient made a complaint, and we did not want to be in the position of encouraging the patient to do that."

Under the newly created Dubai Healthcare Authority, all private and public sector dentists will answer to the same regulatory board. By streamlining the complaints process, Malik expects tighter regulation of dental clinics.

"The DHA made it very clear that they are responsible for anything that is health-related in Dubai - whether you belong to private, public or if you are semi-private like the DHCC - everything is now under that authority," he said. "Before it would take months to get a decision [on a complaint]. The authority [DoHMS] had on certain things wasn't clear.

"Now, within two days the complaint report should be ready for them to review it."

Malik intends to use next month's FDI Congress as a forum to push preventive care.

"I am hoping to use the FDI as a platform to relay the message," he said. "We have really emphasised the oral health education for doctors and to not just do your job and get on with it. The load is too high on the public clinics."

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