By ELIZABETH MIAE
UNIVERSITY of Papua New Guinea’s (UPNG) school of medicine has upgraded its dentistry programmes to help address the shortage of dentists nationwide.
UPNG plans to train more dentists, dental nurses, technicians and therapists so that a full team of dental specialists can be stationed at the provincial and district hospitals throughout the country.
Division of dentistry at the school of medicine chairman Dr Kesia Beaga said the department wanted each province to have at least one dentist but that was not possible at the moment because of the shortage.
“Even one dentist for each province is insufficient,” she said.
She said if two dentists, a dental nurse and a therapist were placed in each province, then one dentist could serve in the district hospital.
“Then the people would not have to travel great distances to seek treatment,” she said.
The division of dentistry has already produced 39 trained dentists since it started the degree programmes in bachelor of oral health and bachelor of dental surgery in 2005.
Dr Beaga spoke at the presentation of scholarships by Colgate Palmolive (PNG) Ltd (Colpal) to top students of the division of dentistry for 2009.
A total of seven students, who performed exceptionally well academically, received the scholarships worth K1,200 each.
In February 2008, Colpal sponsored K200,000 to upgrade the division’s training laboratory.
“Colgate is committed to supporting dentistry in PNG through education and training.
“The need to assist dentistry comes at a time when oral health in PNG is a neglected issue and no focus is given to it,” Colpal said in a statement.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to develop dental professionals, we have committed to a five-year sponsorship of K20,000 each for scholarships as well as opportunities to participate in overseas training,” it said.