Dear beloved members and colleagues,
Greetings from Malaysian Dental Association (MDA). The National COVID-19 Immunisation Program has already begun late February 2021 with our Right Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, being the first recipient of the vaccine. The first phase of the vaccination program was very much awaited by the whole healthcare providers, including the oral healthcare providers in the nation. Prior to this, the association was kept extremely busy compiling names from all private dental practitioners, irrespective of their membership status, for submission to the authorities. This included names from those who responded to the survey and those who wrote in to the association. It was indeed a herculean task being taken on by the association and all the respective zones to ensure that all these names for listing and matching were not only sent centrally (Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Bilik Gerakan Program Imunisasi COVID-19 Kebangsaan) but also to the respective states through Jabatan Kesihatan Negeri. We are all assured by the recent announcement by both MOH and MOSTI that all general dental practitioners are included in the group for early access to the vaccines. We are now seeing the fruits of these efforts and we have news and confirmation that dental practitioners from private sectors have already started receiving the first vaccination dose together with those in the public sector. Please kindly be reminded that you also need to register for the vaccination through your mySejahtera app for notifications by the authorities.
In a statement released on the 25th February 2021 by FDI Council on COVID-19 vaccination, it was mentioned that vaccination of dentists, their team and other oral health professionals is important to contribute to continued access to care. Inclusion like this is therefore important for avoiding oral health workforce dropout and jeopardizing access to care.
We also wish to thank Tan Sri Dato Seri’ Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah for acknowledging dental practitioners, after appropriate training, as another group of healthcare providers capable to be deployed as vaccinators when the need arises, especially during the large scale vaccination exercise. Hence, it is indeed an additional justification to have all dental practitioners be given early access to the vaccine.
Equally exciting piece of news for the whole dental fraternity is the recently launched 28th MDA SCATE 2021: The Digital Edition. Notably as the first ever digital edition of an international dental scientific event organised by the biggest association representing the dental profession in Malaysia, this event was recently officiated by our Director General of Health Malaysia, YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on 6th March 2021. This annual dental conference, usually held in a physical manner to cater for delegates from both Malaysia and abroad, has taken an unprecedented move to have it organised in a digital platform to meet with the new norms in a nation that is still battling with COVID-19.
In his opening speech, Tan Sri touched on the matter of new normal and oral health strategies whereby, oral healthcare system needs to be sustainable and is prepared to adapt to the “new normal” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. It is also important for governments to recognize that oral health is essential as contributor to overall health. Moreover, oral health has been included in the Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage since 2019 by World Health Organisation. Good and safe access to routine dental check – up is necessary for early detection, prevention as well as control of oral diseases. He reiterated further that other important measures to consider and undertake are to ensure that patients and staff are adequately protected from as well as being an infection risk through screening and triaging patients; implementing strict hand hygiene and disinfection measures; ensuring the availability and correct use of PPE by all staff; enforcing physical distancing, use of masks by patients in waiting rooms; and utilizing tele-dentistry for patient. Tan Sri also applauded the dental officers from the Ministry of Health Malaysia for having participated actively as frontliners in the effort to fight this pandemic.
This 5 – day long digital convention, with the theme “Safe Dentistry: Getting back on your feet”, has already attracted well over 670 participants at the time of launching and the numbers is expected to increase further as registration is still open and the platform is available for on demand access and viewing for next 30 days.
I also wish to highlight to all that the celebration of World Oral Health Day 2021 has also taken an unprecedented move to scale down the national celebration. The primary aim is now to disseminate as much as possible oral health awareness messages to the public through social media and to organise a series of webinars together with our Global Supporter, 3M, for dental practitioners. For more information, please do visit our homepage as the first webinar will start on 20th March 2021, which is also a date dedicated for World Oral Health Day to be celebrated all over the globe.
The travel restrictions has not stopped the Association from attending meetings with various parties and governmental agencies. Although there are still limitations with online meetings, it is probably the best option at the moment to ensure that administrative meetings are kept on the move. In fact, the upcoming MDA Zones’ Annual General Meeting will also be held on an online platform. Since December 2020 till now, apart from MDA’s council meetings, MDA has participated in a few important meetings and naming a few of them here are:
- Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Pemandu Malaysia: National Health Accounts 2020 on the 8th December 2020.
- Sesi penerangan mekanisme penentuan harga ubat dan kajian cost benefit analysis sesi 3: penyedia perkhidmatan kesihatan dan insurans (insurance providers) oleh Program Perkhidmatan Farmasi, Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia on 6th January 2021.
- Malaysian Dental Council meeting on 22nd January 2021.
- Sesi perbincangan “Sinergi antara Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia dan National Oral Health Plan 2021-2030 on 3rd March 2021.
- Taklimat garis panduan penjagaan kesihatan pergigian kanak – kanak (Toddlers) kolabrasi bersama agensi luar by Oral Health Program, Ministry of Health Malaysia, on 9th March 2021.
I also wish to bring to the attention of our readers that the Association is following up closely for assistance with Oral Health Program, Ministry of Health Malaysia, and Private Medical Practice Control Section, Ministry of Health Malaysia, with regards to the issues faced by our colleagues in the private sector on setting up of new dental clinics. With the likelihood of more dental practitioners being trained and entering into service, be it in the public sector or private sector, MDA strongly believes that the welfare of this future dental practitioners will require special considerations and far-sighted planning for the common good of all and the public in general.
Last but not least, I urge all members in the private sector to support the upcoming “Free Dental Check – Up” month organised together with Systema. Registration as participating clinic is still on-going and is targeted to commence in the month of April 2021.
I wish all of you the very best of health and God bless you.
Yours in MDA,
Kei Joe LEONG