KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is still in need of more than 5,000 dentists in order to achieve the desired ratio.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said currently the country has 4,558 dentists and of that figure 58% of them were serving at government hospitals and clinics.
“The current ratio is one dentist to 6,436 residents,” Dr Subramaniam said, adding the ministry hoped to achieve the target of 1:3,000 by 2020.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry has been working closely with universities to increase the intake of dentistry students.
He said last year saw the graduation of 315 dentistry students and the number increased to 815 this year.
“And we are expecting the passing out of another 1,100 students next year,” he said at the “My Teeth My Pearl” Oral Health Carnival officiated by the Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor at a shopping mall here yesterday.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry has also launched the oral health programme at 874 kindergartens, involving 17,722 children, last year.
He said there were a total of 50 dental clinics and a mobile dental unit in the country. Apart from this, dental departments have also been set up at 929 schools, 570 health clinics and 65 hospitals.
Rosmah said oral healthcare needed to begin when the child was still in the mother’s womb.
According to research conducted in 2005, she said, some 76.2% children have dental caries problem and each child has an average of six cavities.
“This problem is worrying, but it can be prevented by taking care of oral health from infancy,” she added.