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Shorter wait for govt dental appointments
Published on: Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The waiting period for dental appointments in government clinics has been cut short, thanks to more facilities established by the Health Department.

Its Director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi on Saturday said aggressive action had been taken to improve dental care in recent years as Sabah has been behind compared to the other states on such medical service.

"For many, many years, Sabah was kind of behind compared to other states in Malaysia…we have set up a lot more dental clinics, as well as set up mobile dental clinics.

"To date, Sabah has two mobile clinics that goes around to the community level, especially those in the rural areas," said Rundi, adding that a dental clinic is also open at the Urban Transformation Centre here after office hours.

Dr Rundi was met after attending the opening of the Seventh Borneo Dental Congress, here, Saturday.

Also present were Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and Malaysia Dental Association Eastern Zone Chairman Dr James Chu Kok Weng.

However, she said the demand for dental care remains higher than the supply, adding that the issue remained unresolved due to the overwhelming number of patients.

Dr Rundi said "waiting time" for patients still exists, but pointed out it was better than previously where those trying to get their tooth filled, for example, had to wait for three months to get it done.

"There are just too many people but we are trying to balance this out. There are more people coming to the government facilities now. But we are also cooperating with the private dental care, as there are differences in prices (between the private and public sector)," she said.

It is also understood that the number of dentists against the Sabah population ratio stood around 1:3,000 people at present.

The Health Ministry, in a response to a viral message on dental fee hikes in February, noted that dental treatments like filling, scaling and polishing will cost RM2 while tooth extraction RM1.

The Federal Government presently subsidises a substantial amount on dental services with services like scaling and polishing should cost RM55 at present.

Treatment procedure charges as stated in the Fees (Medical) Order 1982 were not revised for 35 years.

Earlier, Masidi said Sabah has what it takes to be the choice of foreigners in dental tourism, citing the modern technologies and the strategic location of the State in the region, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

"The facilities and equipment are at par with those of developed nations and at the same time affordable," he said.

More than 400 dentists, as well as those in the field of dentistry are attending the congress here.

The three-day Borneo Dental Congress here will end on Sunday.

The congress, which is held alternately between Sabah and Sarawak, has already generated interest from experts from Australia, Brunei and Singapore since its inception seven years ago. - Jason Santos

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