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Nagaland holds the dubious distinction of having the third highest incidences of nasopharyngeal cancer in the world that stems from addiction to tobacco and its by-products by majority of the population, principal secretary Health and Family Welfare I Himato Zhimomi said on Friday.
While people in major towns like Dimapur and Kohima have access to healthcare and dentists, Himato lamented that those in far-flung areas of the State were not as fortunate as dentists and even doctors were scarce.
Speaking at the 16th annual general meeting of Nagaland chapter of Indian Dental Association (IDA) at Niathu Resort as a special invitee, Himato Zhimomi called for fiercely tackling nasopharyngeal cancer and taking dental care to remote areas of the State.
He outlined four challenges that dentists faced today. The first, according to him, was the need to upgrade skills and knowledge in an ever-evolving field like dentistry where there was “no place for second best”, alongside incorporating robotics and artificial intelligence to keep abreast with changing times.
He said the second challenge was for dentists to do “lot of handholding in a society that is still vulnerable and largely unaware” and adopt a humane approach while attending patients.
The third challenge, he said was to serve in far flung areas where there was an acute shortage of doctors. He revealed that with around 150 to 200 dentists in the State, the shortage was felt more in remote areas and urged the dentists present to take up the challenge of visiting interior areas.
Himato said the fourth challenge was for dentists to fight the scourge of tobacco consumption that had afflicted many families in the State. Urging the dentists to be ambassadors of hygienic living, he lamented that tobacco consumption was rampant even though it was outright unhealthy. Earlier in the programme, IDA Nagaland branch president Dr Kezeneilie Pienyu briefed the principal secretary on the issues concerning dentists in Nagaland.
In his presidential address, Pienyu remarked, “We have more than 150 dental surgeons in Nagaland. While on one hand, the increase in dental surgeons is good, on the other hand, there is limited prospect of jobs as the vacancies in government sector is very low. Presently, there are only 33 regular government doctors and 17 NHM contractual doctors.”
Calling for better facilities and creation of more posts, he added, “Most of our dental surgeons have to resort to private practice by setting up their own clinics that requires a huge investment and no financial assistance is provided by the government.”
Pienyu pointed out that national health programmes were more or less based on priority and therefore sectors like oral and dental health programmes were relegated to the backburner, even though more than 80% of the children in the State had dental caries and gingival diseases.
Keeping in mind the need to accord more importance to dental health, he warned that unless the State health department drew out its own initiative, the burden of oral diseases in the society would escalate.
IDA State secretary Vichovol, who was present, presented a brief report on the activities of the association carried out last year.
The other highlight of the programme was a song rendered by Dr S Meyisenla Angh. The conference was chaired by chaired by Dr Sentirenla Jamir and vote of thanks was delivered by Dr Seto D Kera.
Apart from the general conference, there was a pre-conference lecture on effective management practices of dentists and two scientific sessions by Dr Alex Kithan and Dr Longpumeren Jamir.