Kathmandu, February 14
The Ministry of Health’s recent move to close dental clinics in various parts of the country for not following its directives has drawn flak from Nepal Dental Science Association and Nepal Dental Hygienists Association.
President of NDSA Michael Devkota claimed that the dental clinics followed the prescribed criteria, and were closed because they were run by dental health assistants.
The MoH has dictated certain standards for infrastructure, equipment, documentation, and human resources to run dental clinics. Dental clinics are required to send an application to the District Public Health Office and request an inspection to verify that they meet government-set criteria. After the inspection, if the DPHO deems that the criteria are adequately met, the dental clinics are granted permission to operate.
Sangam Thokar, vice-president of the Nepal Dental Science Association, said, “We met the set standards and requested for an inspection from DPHO, Kathmandu. But nobody came to conduct the inspection although we have requesting one for the last three months.”
Devkota said, “The directives state that qualified dental paramedics can run clinics, but the government is falsely claiming that the paramedics are not qualified.”
Devkota further said that in many places of the country, dental health assistants provide services where there are no dentist and dental surgeon. NDSA and NDHA have requested that the directives of the ministry be amended.
On his part, Dr Manoj Humagain, general secretary of Nepal Dental Association, said dental hygienists were not qualified to run clinics. He asserted that there were nearly 3,000 dental surgeons in the country and said surgeons must be mobilised equally in all districts. He said allowing dental health assistants to run clinics in rural areas was not the solution, and that the government must instead focus its energies on mobilising dental surgeons.
Pratap Paudel, chief advisor to Health Minister Gagan Thapa informed that a meeting between NDHA and NDA must be set up before amending the directives, but neither party is willing to come to an agreement. “We have not been able to make a specific decision because of the disagreement between both parties,” he said, adding that the ministry was trying to take both parties’ demands in consideration before amending the directive.
A version of this article appears in print on February 15, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.