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Dental Association Calls for Synergy Between Public, Private Practices 

Dental Association Calls for Synergy Between Public, Private Practices 

Rebecca Ejifoma

The Association of Private Dental Practitioners in Nigeria (APDPN) has called for deliberate synergy with public dental practitioners nationwide to further develop the practice and halt mass migration. 

The president of the association, Dr Afolabi Ogunderu, made this call at the 5th Annual General Meeting and Awards/Dinner Night in Lagos. 

“A significant contemporary issue is the japa syndrome (mass migration). This time, we have had a lot of dentists, medical doctors, and health workers leave the country due to economic reasons, among others,” he said.

Owing to this worrying trend, Ogunderu emphasised the need for practitioners to look at home-grown solutions amongst “Ourselves and train ourselves in many other aspects like a business”. 

For dentistry to be sustainable and successful, the president insisted that the onus rests on the private sector, the academia, and the government. 

He added: “The academia churns out and produces dentists for the public and the private sector. If there’s no synergy between the tripods, there will be a problem. 

“The three parts need to come together for dentistry to be solidified so dentists can provide good quality services.”

Speaking on the theme, “Inflation and Migration Rate: Implication on Private Dental Practice in Nigeria”, the APDPN president lamented that about 85/90 per cent of what we use in dentistry is imported. 

“The forex is a major issue. Then there is a brain drain. Currently, we have less than 3,000 dentists in Nigeria for a population of over 200 million. About 40 to 50 per cent of the dentists are residing in Lagos.”

He cited the current doctor-to-patient ratio in Nigeria as 1 to 30,000 patients in the South and 1 to 45,000 patients in the North. In contrast, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended a mix of 23 doctors, midwives and nurses per 10,000 people.

Hence, Ogunderu implored both private and public dentists across the country to come together as a body to brainstorm and look for a way to forge a positive future.

On her part, the Public Relations Officer of APDPN, Dr Opeyemi Okoisor, emphasised the need for collective and joint efforts of dental practitioners to deliver quality services amid the brain drain. 

She added: “We are all familiar with the japa syndrome, the rising inflation, particularly posts Covid-19. We know that the dental industry isn’t the only one affected. But we have been severely affected daily by the brain drain. 

While lamenting that qualified doctors that should be able to work in private practice have migrated, Okoisor said one of the ways out is collaboration. 

Her words: “We need more collaboration as a group. Instead of all of us working independently, having the same issues, when we come together, we can be more powerful and provide better care when we join forces.”

Speaking also, the CEO/Founder of Luxe Dental Clinic, Dr Funmi Adeniyi, harped on financing medical healthcare to solve mass migration.

“I do not believe the bill to restrict medical and dental practitioners from leaving the country is the solution to our problem. 

“The government needs to look inward and think about how to finance healthcare in Nigeria,” says Adeniyi. 

She noted that if dentists are remunerated accordingly, have excellent living standards and can compete with their colleagues anywhere in the world, they wouldn’t want to leave. 

That is why with the AGM, the association is looking inward and focusing on how to re-strategise as practitioners to be more profitable and to be better business owners. 

She explained: “There’s the business of health. There’s the practice of dentistry and then the business of dentistry. 

“We’re looking inward and doubling down to be effective as business owners so that we build reputable companies that can employ dentists and they are proud and would want to stay.”

The dental practitioner further implored the government to join hands with them and make the practice of dentistry easier and seamless and give us access to finance and loans. 

Adeniyi outlined their needs. “We want to go into banks and be able to present our certificates and get access to credit facilities knowing that we aren’t going anywhere; we are here for the long haul. 

“You will see how better the country can be. We can become the next medical tourism hub where people worldwide come together for dental cures and treatments.”

Recognising their invaluable contributions, the association bestowed Life Time Achievement and Industry Award to Col. Dr Jimi Osisanya (Rtd) and Dr Gbadebo Smith. 

Recipients of the posthumous Industry Award were Dr Col. Bidemi Daodu and Dr Evelyn Eshikena, while Dr Alabode Karunwi, Dr Uche Iheme, Dr Adedamola Costa, Dr Ladun Ibidapo and Dr Abiola Mohammed received the Industry Award.

Caption:  (Middle) President of APDPN, Dr Afolabi Ogunderu flanked by other members of the association at the 5th Annual General Meeting and Awards/Dinner Night in Lagos

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