Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, has disclosed that hospitals exclusively devoted to oral health are being considered at the national and regional levels. Inaugurating the Centre for Oral Health Promotion at the Centre for Dental Education and Research at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) today, the Minister said the facilities for dental treatment and oral health are still inadequate in India. In the rural areas, they are practically absent. To mitigate this, the Minister said the coming years would see more investment into dental hospitals and colleges at the national and regional levels. These would be fitted out with the latest sophisticated equipment and research facilities.
The World Health Organisation has recognised the new centre as a partner. The Minister praised the standards at AIIMS but observed that while equipment and personnel could be rolled out, education of the masses on the connection between dental caries and cavities and heart and kidney conditions should not be ignored. “Doctors on their own should act as points of dissemination of information on positive and healthy habits. While the government will do its duty of framing policies and schemes and implementing them, it would require the cooperation and involvement of all to make ‘health for all’ a social movement,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said. The Minister spent over three hours inspecting the new facility and also the new Centre of Excellence for Stem Cell Research at the Cardio Thoracic Centre of AIIMS. The new facility has come with the support of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology. He also shared views with the faculty of AIIMS at an “open forum”.
The Minister unveiled a poster of “Surabhi”, a teenage girl who became brain dead in September 2013 and her parents were counselled by doctors at AIIMS’ Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation (ORBO) to donate her organs. The 16-year-old from Krishna Nagar in east Delhi had been involved in an accident. Her heart, two kidneys, liver and two corneas were used to save people in need. Dr Harsh Vardhan greeted the parents and grandparents of Surabhi at the centre today.
“I cannot find words to express my gratitude to Surabhi. In death she conquered a great social obstacle. Far from donating their organs most people in this country are reluctant to give their blood. It is here that I feel that the emphasis on education must be paramount,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said. Prominent members and former members of the AIIMS faculty including Dr M.C. Mishra, Director, Dr Naseem Shah, head of the Dental Department, Dr Hari Prakash, former head of Dental Department, Dr P. Venugopal, former Director of AIIMS, Dr Balram Bhargava, head of Cardiology, Dr Aarti Vij, head of the Organ Retrieval Banking Organization and Dr Sujata Mohanty of the Stem Cell Research Facility, were present.
Mr Lov Verma, Union Health Secretary, said on the occasion that the burden of oral diseases is quite high in India. Quoting a publication entitled National Commission on Macro-Economics and Health and Oral Health in India: Report of Multi-Centric Oral Health Survey (2007), he said that about 40-45 percent of the people suffer from dental caries and more than 90 per cent of periodontal diseases. Stressing the need for scaling up the National Oral Health Programme, the Ministry has set up a central task force to assess current and future needs of dental professionals in terms of infrastructure and in the context of integration of oral health into the national health programme. The task force is headed by Dr Mahesh Verma, Director of Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, New Delhi.