Philippine Society of Periodontology Induction Ceremonies at the New World Hotel, Makati City

Dr. Yvonne Vanessa Chua, President of the Philippine Society of Periodontology (PSP), my kailian from Batac, Ilocos Norte, and the members of the Board of Dentistry, Dr. Ranny Reyes, Dr. Andy Fernandez, President of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) and distinguished guests, my friends, ladies and gentlemen, good evening to all of you.

First of all I would like to greet your society, the Philippine Society of Periodontology as it celebrates its 20th anniversary. It was quite a long and winding road for you to reach the robust society that you are today. From literally a handful of members to the large number that comprises your organization today.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I really don’t know what a government official like me, a Senator at that, is doing here speaking before you PERIODONTOLOGISTS , as I cannot claim to be a dental health expert, or one well-versed in the science of oral health.

Digging deeper, our research has made us realize that the Philippines has a high rate of dental problems. In fact, we have one of the highest in the world, as I am told that approximately 93% of our population today is suffering from dental caries while more than 35% of the population is suffering from gum problems. Considering the high cost to treat these maladies, the amount required can be staggering! That is why I say that up to today your group specialists caters more to the wealthy and those “who can afford”.

No amount of public insurance can cover the costs of treating these dental problems. Philhealth? Medocare? Etc. Certainly there is a lot of introspection to be done! All these implying policy-making or maybe even legislation.

Additionally, we all know that many man-hours are lost if we are to consider the toll a toothache can cause the health of the labor force. All considered it can be said that the opportunity lost in the productivity of our people affected with dental problems is very high resulting in LOST MANPOWER HOURS!, which is very costly indeed! The question now being asked is, what has the government done to address these concerns? And I myself started to ponder on this question after I received your invitation. Let me therefore go straight to the point. As a legislator, it is but natural for me to think of gearing up and strengthening legislative initiatives related to the enhancement of dental health.

I also recently discovered that there is NO dental division or unit at the DOH, although there is a Board of Examiners for dentists in the Professional Regulatory Commission.

And I am very surprised that the Bureau of Dental Services, the dental arm of the DOH was abolished sometime in 1999 for so called budgetary reasons! I do remember that this Bureau existed during the time of my father. I cannot imagine that 93% of the population who are affected by a dental and oral malady do not even have a place in our government’s policy making body to cater to our fast-growing population.

Dental diseases is one of the easily preventable health maladies in the world. We may not be able to immediately cure all the present dental caries and periodontal disease problems but dental experts are one in the belief that it would be possible to come up with a doable and sustainable dental public health program that is manageable and that will consequently decrease the noted current high statistics on dental health problems.

How do we do this?

I am not an expert. But to use an analogy, an orchestra composed of various musical instruments and sounds can come up with beautiful music when under the baton of a good conductor. What I am trying to point out is that, we need a coordinated effort amongst the different government agencies and private entities to come up with a comprehensive and effective dental health program for our people. As a public official, I believe we have the responsibility to address this problem.

As an initial step, offhand, I would venture to propose that a body be created composed of government agencies and private organizations in the dental field to include the ff agencies! 1) Department of Health (DOH) as the lead; 2) Department of Education (DepEd) 3) Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 4)Philhealth 5) Commission on Higher Education (CHED) 6) The Phil. Dental Association 7) Dental Specialists Organizations, etc.

I am convinced that by having a lead agency which is mandated to oversee the implementation of oral health programs, many positive things can be accomplished.

One of the first considerations is always the problem of budget and manpower resources. With government as the lead and catalyst in all areas of medical and dental services serving our people, this concern should be easy to come by.

I believe that a sustainable and effective system could be set up. All it needs, at this point, as in many cases where government provides welfare services to our people, is the will and the commitment to provide effective and affordable dental health services to the greater number of all our almost 100 million citizens.

Then, if I may add, there is also the new popular concept of public-private partnership (PPP) that could be applied to the needs of the dental health sector.

In all of these initiatives, we all have to work together. And let us not again rely on government alone. For the problem is not just for the government to solve for it is the responsibility expected of all of us! Your responsibility as private citizens partnering with government which is mandated as policy-making body. Implied in all these is the heavy reliance on the private sector which means YOU, our dentists and specialists, who will have to share time and effort if we are all to focus on oral health policies and preventive programs that would bring to fruition, a healthier and more productive citizenry.

ANG SAGOT AY NASA ATING LAHAT! HINDI LANG SA PAMAHALAAN, HINDI LANG SA MGA TANYAG AT MAHUHUSAY NA DENTISTANG FILIPINO – NASA LAHAT SA ATIN NA MAGKAKAPIT BISIG PARA SA KAUNLARAN NG SAMBAYANANG PILIPINO!

LET US GIVE MORE TEETH TO THE NATION’S DENTAL-HEALTH POLICIES AND PROGRAMS THAT WOULD REDOUND TO THE SOLID HEALTH OF OUR NATION AND OUR PEOPLE!

LET ME THANK YOU ALL ONCE AGAIN FOR HAVING INVITED ME TODAY TO JOIN YOU IN YOUR SOCIETY’S 20TH FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY!

MARAMING SALAMAT AT MABUHAY ANG PSP!

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