Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. welcomed the new dentists, some of whom were Ilocano, as he recognized the major role of dental practitioners in the delivery of basic health services to the Filipino people.
“On behalf of the Congress of the Philippines, let me take this opportunity to welcome our new young dentists.... And what elates me more is that a fraction of these new dentists hail from our beloved province of Ilocos Norte!” he said.
Sen. Bongbong made the remarks in a speech he delivered during the 68th Induction Ceremony and Scientific Seminar of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA)-Ilocos Norte Dental Chapter held on Monday, July 14, 2014, at the Plaza del Norte Convention Center, Paoay, Ilocos Norte.
“We also congratulate the Ilocos Norte Dental Chapter for its dynamic and proactive efforts in continually shepherding and molding, likewise solidifying the integration, of Filipino dentists in this northern part of our country. Sana tunay na maging ‘solid north’ din ang mga dentistang Pinoy dito sa Ilocos Norte,” he said.
In his speech, Sen. Bongbong expressed concerns that despite the manpower reinforcement with the entrance of new dentists every year, they still face an uphill battle.
“I say this because according to the PRC (Professional Regulatory Commission), there are approximately 21,000 active dental practitioners in the Philippines now. That is around a 1:4,285 ratio or one dentist for every 4,285 persons. It means that we have a shortage of dentists in our country, for according to the PRC, the ideal proportion should be 1 dentist for every 3,000 persons,” the senator said.
In the 2011 National Monitoring and Evaluation Dental Survey conducted by the DOH-National Center for Disease Prevention and Control, in partnership with the UP-National Institute of Health, it was revealed that 87.4% of Filipinos suffer from dental caries (tooth decay and tooth cavity), while 48.3% have periodontal or gum disease.
“Ibig sabihin, halos siyam sa bawat sampu sa atin dito sa silid na ito ay may sira sa ngipin. At lima din sa bawat sampu ay mayroon ding problema sa gilagid,” he said.
In 2013, the 7 top oral health problems were oral cancer, unattractive smile, tooth sensitivity or pangingilo, mouth sore or singaw, gum disease, and tooth decay.
The Senator said the PRC noted that most practitioners are concentrated in urban areas, “which means then that people in far-flung areas do not have access to dentists and yet they are the ones who are in dire need of dental care.”
“So, we have to produce not only more Filipino dentists, but even improve their quality, to beef up our manpower requirements. To do this, we may have to launch a massive information campaign about the dismal state of our oral health and the recognized need for new dentists. The PDA, among other civic and relevant professional groups, should be at the forefront of this campaign,” he said.
Sen. Bongbong called on the government to do its part by generating employment availability for dentists, restoring the Bureau of Dental Health Services in the Department of Health, ensuring the availability and affordability of dental equipment and paraphernalia in the market, and most importantly, restraining itself from implementing a crippling taxation scheme upon self-employed professionals, including dentists.
“By bonding and working together, the dental professionals can ably lobby for government reforms in the area of dental health services. So I exhort the PDA-Ilocos Norte Dental Chapter not only to ‘stand for charity’ but also be ‘one in unity’ of purpose,” he said.
He added: “Remember that you, as a united group, were able to lobby in Congress for the needed reforms and upgrades provided for in the National Dental Act in 2007. I don’t see why you cannot continue to do so, and even with greater strength and vigor.”