28 June 2009

Ministry targets 1:4,000 dentists by 2017

The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The Health Ministry wants to increase the number of dentists to the population from the current ratio of slightly over 1:8,000 to 1:4,000 by the year 2017.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the ratio in advanced countries that had enough dentists was 1:2,000.

He said that at the end of last year, Malaysia had 3,410 dentists of whom 49.6% were employed in the public sector.

Liow said 60% of the 2,538 posts for dental officers in the Health Ministry has been filled.

“We have also filled 56.1% of the 196 dental specialist posts,” he said after launching the Malaysian Dental Association and Federation Dentaire Internatio-nal Scientific Convention and Trade Exhibition at a hotel here yesterday.

Liow said the country had 241 dental specialists and the ministry wanted to increase the number.

“Endeavours have also been made to secure more scholarships each year for post-graduate education.

“This year, the number of scholarships for training in various dental specialities has increased to 36 compared to 29 last year,” he said.

Liow said the shortage of dentists and specialists in the country was not due to a lack of interest in the field but because of a shortage of places in universities here.

He added that there was a need for local universities to step up their capacity for post-graduate training.

Liow also said the country’s supply of dental practitioners came from foreign universities and 11 local institutions, six of which were public establishments.

“Currently, the supply is some 250 dental practitioners per year.

“However, the figure is expected to reach 685 per year by 2015,” he said.

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