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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 107-108

President's Message

President, Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry, India

Date of Submission11-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance11-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication24-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
K Pushpanjali
President, Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_120_20

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How to cite this article:
Pushpanjali K. President's Message. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2020;18:107-8

How to cite this URL:
Pushpanjali K. President's Message. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Dec 8];18:107-8. Available from: https://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2020/18/2/107/287628

Greetings to one and all!!

It would be fair to say that humanity is perhaps navigating through one of its most challenging times in recent history. Nations world over are currently on the warfront, fighting the global pandemic of COVID-19. Heath systems are being relentlessly tested. Public health has become the need of the hour.

As public health professionals, our training, awareness, and innate orientation would be making these times more worrying and intriguing for each of us. Yet, I also sense a disappointment and frustration among my dearest colleagues that our skills, as dental public health professionals, are not put to optimal use in grave times as these. I understand and share the disenchantment. However, it is also pertinent that we realistically and critically explore why and how are we here. Such introspection will take us a long way ahead, not only in the wake of the pandemic situation but also for a better direction for our profession.

Even before this phase of crisis, the IAPHD had been examining several aspects of the profession and brainstorming about potential changes. These proposed changes now seem directly relevant to the present situation. The first is a time-bound revitalization of our education system – both curriculum and training – in a way that would equip the dental graduates and the public health dentists with newer skills and attributes to cope with changing requirements and circumstances of the profession. I think that the current situation would qualify for a changing professional circumstance.

The COVID crisis required the services of frontline public health professionals in the conception and implementation of preventive strategies and primary healthcare activities, in close association with the state health ministries and government health sectors. These activities primarily involved community engagement in running sanitation campaigns and other IEC activities, screening, and contact tracing. We, as trained clinicians and public health practitioners, could have definitely contributed to all of these activities to a significant extent. However, this necessitated two things – (1) a clear vision of the requirements of the situation and (2) a certain degree of preparedness in terms of refreshing the necessary skills and attributes and developing newer skills if needed. Both of these requirements cannot be achieved in the immediate wake of a crisis. Rather, it mandates a more systematic and long-term planning from the part of the profession and that, according to me, is the primary lesson we could take home from the entire experience. I believe that the IAPHD would be the ideal platform to volunteer toward building an enduring plan on behalf of the profession, to ensure that we would stay prepared for any such public health emergencies in the future.

Another critical aspect that we were looking into was the creation of greater opportunities and avenues for public health dentists, to put their versatile skills to best use. In a situation of public health crisis, the government health sector would naturally assume a leadership position, which is also absolutely justified. Hence, to have a proactive role in its management, we must be able to work closely with the government health sector. As in the case above, such a close association based on trust and mutual respect cannot be built in the immediate aftermath of a crisis. In other words, over time, we should build a regular system and normative culture of closely engaging with the government health sector and state ministries. When such a system is established, it would also applicable to all situations, including public health emergencies. This is a task that requires lobbying in the health ministries at the state and national levels and advocacy regarding the potential that the profession of dental public health holds. This, I believe, is another area that requires concerted action from the entire profession under the common platform of the IAPHD.

A silver lining in this darkness is that we have already initiated curriculum reforms program toward competency-based education and preparation of guidelines and vision documents for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. We need to take these actions forward systematically and collectively with a clear vision. I request the sincere cooperation of all our members and well-wishers in this monumental task ahead. I urge all my fellow practitioners and colleagues to stay safe and follow all the necessary precautions in your practice. I assure the complete cooperation of the team of the IAPHD in providing the necessary assistance and support to our professionals in coping with the pandemic.

Last but not the least, I allow the optimist in me to hope for the best and revel in the possibilities that the future holds for humanity and for our beautiful profession. We shall overcome!

“Everything is going to be fine in the end. If it's not fine it's not the end.”

– Oscar Wilde


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