PUTRAJAYA: The 1st Meeting of the Malaysian Dental Council (MDC) 2016 was held on 23rd February 2016 and chaired by the Director General of Health Malaysia as the President of the Council. One of the issues that have been discussed was the public concern on the oversupply of dental graduates. Below is the official answer from the DG's office:

According to the Malaysian Dental Council (MDC) which keeps a record of registered dental graduates, there has been an increasing trend in the number of dental graduates especially over the past 3 years. In 2013, there were 697 new registrants and this rose to 896 in 2014 and 980 in 2015. By the end of 2015, there were 6,410 dentists practising in Malaysia resulting in a dentist to population ratio of 1:4,800 which is well above the target of 1:3,000. Taking into account the population growth, the expected number of new graduates and the number that retire from practice each year, the desired target would be reached only in 2018.

In Malaysia, there is a need for more dentists to address the high disease burden noted in the National Oral Health Survey for Adults 2010 and the most recent, the National Oral Health Survey of Preschool Children 2015. This need is greatest in children aged 5 years and below and the adult population, particularly the elderly. Thus, currently there is no oversupply of dental graduates.

Nevertheless, a moratorium on the opening of new dental schools was implemented in March 2013 for a duration of 5 years mainly to strengthen the academic staff capacity to sustain high quality output of local dental graduates. Currently, there are 13 local institutions conducting dental degree programmes. The moratorium which also capped the student intake by all local institutions to a total of 800 per year, will be reviewed in 2018 based on the situation and needs of the population.

The number of graduates from local universities has remained relatively constant between 450 and 500 per year. The increase in the number of dental graduates registering with the Council in recent years has been due to graduates from foreign institutions. In 2013, there were 245 graduates from foreign institutions and this rose to 447 in 2014 and 482 in 2015. As there is a less than 10% attrition rate for dental officers in the MOH, the increase in graduates necessitates the creation of newposts yearly by the Public Service Department (PSD), for the new graduates entering the 1-year compulsory service.

There is no housemanship for dental graduates. Under the Dental Act 1971, upon registration with the MDC, graduates are required to serve a 3-year compulsory service. As the number of graduates increased and the incentives and career pathways in government service became more attractive, more dental officers opted to remain in public service. Thus, the compulsory service was reduced to 2 years in 2012, and was further reduced to 1 year in 2015. Nevertheless, the percentage of dentists in the public sector has risen to 63% compared to 52% in 2009. The one-year compulsory service is maintained to ensure that there are sufficient dental officers in the public sector to facilitate accessibility to oral healthcare. Taking into cognizance that dental graduates come from various training backgrounds, there is also a need to ensure that all new dentists have the same understanding on the needs of the population and the healthcare system.

Hospitals and health centres in MOH are planned and built in specific locations, based on the needs of the population. Yearly, the PSD creates posts for the new facilities and the expansion of services in existing facilities, based on the dental officers available. This will result in the services in these facilities being more efficient and expand to serve the growing number of people seeking treatment in MOH facilities.

The Oral Health Division, MOH continually monitors the number of registrants and the needs of the population when advising on the creation of new posts. In 2015, with the marked increase in registrants, all existing posts had been filled and the PSD created a total of 391 new posts to provide employment for all the registrants. The MOH will continue to work with related agencies regarding the employment of dental graduates and the maintenance and improvement of facilities and services within the MOH.

For More Information related to the overview of dentistry In Malaysia, click here (UPDATED JAN 2016) : http://dentistsnearby.com/misc/patient-education/285-dental-overview-malaysia.html

What do you think about the response from the DG's office? Is there a ray of hope for the dental industry in Malaysia?  Comment below..

Excerpt credit : Ministry Of Oral Health Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/pergigiankkm/