Dentist must attend Dental Conferences as they help to gain more knowledge.
By Haseeb Uddin
Dental News recently interviewed the president of FDI Dr Patrick Hescot on the sidelines of AEEDC Dubai. The excerpts of his interview are as follows.
Question: The first question I would like to ask is what are the benefits of attending the upcoming FDI conference for Pakistanis?
DR: I think there are two levels for interest. The first level being scientific, because there will be a very high level of scientific information and there will be a lot of speakers from across the world. And it is very interesting to understand and listen to all these international dentists. And the second level is to share. Because you know that, for example I am French, if I just stay in France, it is good but it is not sufficient. And for Pakistanis it is the same thing. It is very interesting to go outside and to participate in the world dental conference because you can share your point of view, your opinions, and your cultures with other cultures. And for me, the most important thing is to share.
Question: How does FDI plan to help dentists worldwide to play their specific roles in Pakistan, because we don’t have very good oral hygiene condition in Pakistan, as a matter of fact, Pakistan doesn’t even have an oral healthcare budget on a public sector level. Can FDI somehow support the local dentists so that they can reach out to the government, make a better impression and gauge public sector support for oral health hygiene?
DR: Absolutely. The responsibility of FDI is to advocate and to help dentists and dental assistants to promote oral health in front of the government, in front of the society, in front of the insurance, and companies as well as the general public. And I feel it will be very interesting for not only FDI but also for dental practitioners in Pakistan to work together and to learn about the situation in Pakistan and how it is possible to help the practitioners to promote oral health in Pakistan. It is very important to educate and to advocate. For example, FDI is the voice of dentistry worldwide and we are the official voice of dentistry worldwide with the World Health Organization (WHO) so advocacy is our responsibility. We must promote oral health and to promote the responsibility of the dentists in oral health. We have to promote dentistry not only in front of the governments of different countries but also in front of their media. Media support is crucial, and advocacy is the most important factor.
Question: Speaking of advocacy and awareness, World Oral Health Day is a very important day which basically is creating awareness on a public level and is advocating with the corporations as well as the government. How do you think World Oral Health Day has changed the overall situation?
DR: It is only celebrated one day in a year but during this day especially, all the possibility to communicate and to advocate about oral health. FDI created this day but gave the possibility to all the countries and dentists to promote oral health at their individual levels. So it is the responsibility of Pakistan to decide how they want to promote it. Whether they want to organize special documentaries on television or they want to organize with students or large events with dentists. It depends on you. FDI created this event to help you, to provide you with the appropriate tools, but after that it is your responsibility to promote as you want. Because, promotion is communication. And communication is culture. You cannot communicate in the same level in France like you would in Pakistan. We all have to adapt according to our countries.
Question: Continuing on the topic of World Oral Health Day, as of your personal opinion and from the FDI perspective, are you happy with the WOHD activities as they have been going on all over the globe? Do you think there is more room for improvement or is it meeting its benchmarks? What is your opinion on this?
DR: My opinion is very positive. We built this WOHD only four years ago, and each year we develop a new approach, and every year we have more importance in the world, and more countries participating. You must understand, you cannot even imagine building such huge events in a single year. You must work step by step each year to build it. It is very important to have close relations with all the participating countries and to develop an understanding with them to promote WOHD.
Question: Again speaking of awareness, and the role of oral hygiene, does FDI also work directly alongside those sub-associations who are actually promoting awareness and working towards dental posterity as well. And if they are, how should one approach FDI for that.
DR: The FDI approach is to work with everybody. We have a natural relationship with Pakistan Dental Association as PDA is a regular member of FDI, and as a regular member it is our privilege to walk together. But we walk with everybody. For example, the responsibility of such companies is very important. We have strong partnerships with a lot of companies because they can help us to educate by advertising. The goal is to educate individuals about oral health. Each person is responsible unto himself to understand the importance maintaining oral hygiene. If you understand that, it is good. And for that, it is not only the dentists and dental assistants but for all people to understand oral health.
Question: Okay. Now, in Pakistan, the number of dental graduates who have emerged in the last 4-5 years and the students who are yet to graduate in the upcoming future, has heavily increased. We used to have some 20-25 colleges just 10 years ago, now we have more than 45 dental colleges. So you can understand the number of dentists who will emerge. A question on the minds of most young dentists is; are they eligible for obtaining funding from FDI to undertake projects and if yes, how do they go about it?
DR: We work very closely alongside young dentists through the dental association. Therefore young dentists must in turn be working alongside their dental association. We have an official young dental association for young dentists worldwide. For example for WOHD, the young dental association of students and young dentists and members of FDI must work together for promotion. Because when it comes to the youth, we need a different approach. Because young people use social media, thus social media is extremely important.
Question: Just one last question. Obviously, national dental associations are always there, ensuring the pathways of communication with the FDI. But there are also some private companies or corporations who would like to work with the FDI to promote public awareness. What is your personal opinion on this? Should it work this way?
DR: For me, it is very clear what we have to do. We can give exclusivity to the dental associations and dentists. But promoting oral health is the responsibility of everybody, especially relevant companies. The responsibility of FDI is to advocate these companies to make good products and after that to promote oral hygiene using these products. We create partnerships at FDI. We have partnership conditions are ethics and quality. If you have ethics and quality, we can work together to promote oral health and to promote products. FDI is happy to work with many companies worldwide to promote oral hygiene.
Question: Thank you very much for your time sir. One last thing, if you could please give a message for WOHD specific for Pakistan that would be great.
DR: the most important thing is to be proud to be a dentist, and to hold the tremendous responsibility of improving the well-being and quality of life of Pakistanis. You have to promote oral health and dentistry in Pakistan. Good luck.
This article was originally published in Dental News March 2017 edition