Mumbai’s dental college interns pool money to combat material shortage

The students complained that the hospital lacks the basic dental material which directly impacts the studies of the interns

Aditi AlurkarUpdated: Thursday, December 01, 2022, 02:43 PM IST
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Government Dental College |

Mumbai: With a recurring shortage of dental materials like composite and silver, the interning students at Government Dental College in Mumbai are losing out on their months of practice as they struggle to perform routine procedures.

The students complained that the hospital lacks the basic dental material which directly impacts the studies of the interns.

“Practical and patient-centric procedures are the centre of dental internships. When dental material is not available at the college then the continuity of both, our practice and our treatment suffer,” said one of the students who spoke to the Free Press Journal.

“If the material falls short in a certain department, the students posted there, contribute Rupees 200-500, to procure the material required for that week,” said the interning student.  “Sometimes the faculty members pay too,” he added.

As per the students, undergraduates from other colleges have been transferring to GDC for their year-long internships, chasing the high patient influx found in government institutes. What seemed like a golden opportunity to many has fizzled out along with the many dental materials.

The college has nearly halved its intake for certain procedures. “All I do here is turn root canal patients away to other hospitals,” said a new intern at the college.

These dentists in the making are now at the receiving end of the patient outrage. Root canal patients have a waiting period of nearly six months between their two sittings, making the operated tooth prone to caries.

“By the time our patients come back, their teeth are infected, ultimately leading to extraction. It's them who are suffering the most in the picture,” said a senior medical intern.

The problem began in 2018-19 when the state government appointed Parel’s Haffkine Institute as the central purchaser for all government dental colleges. Post this move, only 10% of the total funding remains with the college while the rest is being handed over to Hafkinne. With varied expenses and foreign distributors, very few met the stringent criteria of the Haffkinee tenders.

The shortage became evident once things settled down after the pandemic. It came to bother the latest batch of students who will step out of GDC this month.

As per the norm, these BDS students will also be allowed to set up their clinics once their degree is done, though most of them are still counting on a Master’s programme to hone their skills.

“Despite the shortcomings of my internship, I believe I can still start my own practice and even successfully perform surgeries like a root canal. I think those who really wanted to learn here found their way to go about it,” said last year's intern.

The patients at GDC seemed weary of these conditions. Faisal Shaikh, Vice President of NSUI Mumbai said, "I was visiting the hospital for my own treatment. It seemed that the students knew how to extract teeth, but a root canal was tricky for them. They seemed to rely on teachers and NGOs to get their hands on material. We hope to raise this issue with Girish Mahajan, Minister of Medical Education of Maharashtra."

Meanwhile, a top official from the college, who wished not to be named, told FPJ that the college continues to utilize its share of 10% of its funding while chasing alumni and CSR donations to arrange for dental material on a timely basis. The college is now proposed to hold onto 30% of the fund disbursement instead of a mere 10%.

Dr Vivek Pakhmode, the Dental Joint Director of GDC, said that such issues take time and the administration is already in touch with the concerned authorities for the same.

“All authorities from the college are aware of this issue. It seems to be a procedural difficulty and members from the dean's office and I have been speaking to various facets of the Ministry to find a solution,” the Joint Director said.

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