Dear members of Malaysian Dental Association (MDA).
Greetings. More than a year has passed, and it is still fresh in all our memory, the experience that all of us as dental practitioners had to go through at the various phases of Movement Control Order in Malaysia. Now, at MCO 3.0, implemented since 1st June 2021, painful it may be, but it is indeed necessary to curb the COVID-19 outbreak in our country as quickly as possible to quickly flatten the curve before our healthcare system collapses. It is indeed sad to note that after more than a year of battle with COVID-19, victory is still not in sight. In fact, with new variants that are linked to higher transmissibility and a staggering daily 4 digit positive case, which at one point of time recently hit a daily record above 9000 cases, the end of the tunnel seems very far away. Nevertheless, we must win the war, it is no longer an option but a commission for each and everyone of us to seriously play our part as responsible as possible.
The month of June in each calendar year was always traditionally a busy month leading up to the Annual General Meeting (AGM). This year, our AGM was planned to be held on the 20th June 2021. Despite numerous attempts by our Association to request from Registrar of Society (ROS) for a postponement of the AGM in the hope for a more productive physical AGM and election, we were still advised to continue to hold our AGM as per our constitution. As much as all of us wanted for a physical AGM like in previous years, we have no choice, due to interstate and interdistrict travel restrictions, we were advised by ROS to hold our AGM virtually so as to adhere to our constitution to avoid legal actions being taken against the Association. Nevertheless, at the eleventh hour, after much deliberation and discussion with ROS, we received instructions to postpone our AGM.
One of the highlights early of this year related to COVID-19 was the vaccination exercise that started in February 2021. All dental practitioners are regarded as frontliners and were included in the first phase of the vaccination exercise. On behalf of the Association, I wish to thank MOH and MOSTI for making it clear that all private dental practitioners are to be included in the first phase. A major nationwide survey was conducted to collect names of private dental practitioners, members and non-members alike, and their registered staffs for listing purposes. Even after the survey was concluded, MDA still remained open to collect names for those who missed the survey and separate, additional listings were sent to the respective state health authorities. Unfortunately, there are still some hiccups at the ground level when it comes to the actual implementation and it seems that the implementation was slow and differs from place to place. Nevertheless, I believe majority of the dental practitioners in the nation would have now been fully vaccinated. We have also reminded the health authorities repeatedly that we have listing of volunteers from the private sector ready to be employed as vaccinators. My deepest appreciation to all these private dental practitioners who are willing to take time off and ready to be deployed. Now, in the second phase of the vaccination programme, COVID-19 Immunization Task Force advised all remaining private dental practitioners who have yet to receive their vaccination to visit the nearest Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah to request for appointment for vaccination.
The Association was indeed excited that even in the midst of the outbreak of COVID-19, we managed to deliver MDA SCATE 2021: The Digital Edition to the dental fraternity. It was held totally on a virtual platform from 5th of March 2021 till 9th of March 2021 as LIVE and later another 30 days for on-demand viewing. Truly the first of its kind in the history of MDA, something to give back to the members although it did not generate any surplus in income for the Association. In fact, we have learnt a lot from this, and we are now planning for MIDEC 2021: The Digital Edition, making it even bigger, to be held from 5th till 8th August 2021 and 60 days on demand viewing. Indeed, the COVID-19 outbreak has reset many of our norms. Though webinar is not something new to us, it is now upgraded to a whole new experince of conferencing.
Maintaining good rapport and forging new ties with other National Dental Association is regarded as one of important duties of the council and this is extremely important when all National Dental Associations meet up at the annual FDI (World Dental Federation) Parliamentary Meetings and Asia Pacific Dental Federation Delegates Meeting. The FDI World Dental Congress at Shanghai, China, was called off last year and this year FDI World Dental Congress at Sydney, Australia, is totally on a virtual platform. Nevertheless, MDA is excited as Dato’ Dr How Kim Chuan, Past President of MDA and Past Councillor of FDI, will be running for the post as Speaker in the upcoming election in FDI World Dental Congress, Sydney.
Also at the international arena, MDA attended virtually the Asia Pacific Dental Federation Delegates Meeting, held on the 23rd May 2021 and 25th May 2021, in conjunction with Asia Pacific Dental Congress, Sri Lanka. The delegation from MDA comprised of Dr Leong Kei Joe as the chief delegate, Dr Lim Chiew Wooi and Dr Chong Zhen Feng as the alternate delegates. The President of MDA was also given the opportunity to chair the scientific session where the speaker was Dr Gerhard Seeberger, President of FDI World Dental Federation.
Allow me to summarize some of other meetings, events and activities undertaken by the Association during these 3 months:
– Systema GUMBATTE Towards Healthy Gums and Teeth PR Launch on 6th April 2021. MDA representative was Dr Chong Zhen Feng.
– Bachelor of Oral Health curriculum review meeting organised y UiTM on the 12th April 2021 and was attended by Dr Leong Kei Joe who was appointed as External Board of Reviewers representing MDA.
– Kempen Kesedaran Pelaksanaan Penyampaian Perkhidmatan Pergigian Norma Baharu organised the Dental Faculty of UiTM. Dr Neoh Ein Yau was one of the panellist the discussion on the topic “ Oral Health Service Delivery: Adapting to the New Norm” held on the 2nd June 2021.
- Malaysian Dental Council (MDC) council meeting, held virtually on the 18th June 2021, attended by Dr Leong Kei Joe.
- National Oral Health Plan 2021-2030 stakeholders meeting, held virtually on the 21st June 2021, attended by Dr Leong Kei Joe.
- DPL – MDA Webinar: Wisdom Tooth and Implant Case Studies ( 25.06.2021)
I sincerely believe that every President of the Association has its unique challenges and it just happen that the COVID-19 outbreak and its sequela have been the main challenge for the Association. It affected many aspect across the board:
- Administrative operation at Wisma MDA with staffs having to work from home on and off.
- Congresses and other continuous professional development activities either cancelled or conducted virtually,
- Welfare of the practising members especially on the ever changing rules and regulations arising from various authorities,
- Continuous ties with National Dental Associations especially with the international travel restrictions. Speakers exchange and sharing congratulatory video message among Presidents’ of National Dental Associations is now a common activity.
- Dental training of Dental Students,
- And many more.
We do not know how long this pandemic will last, but it will be here for a long time to come and we need to adapt. Until we are completely out of the woods, these challenges may continue to linger on to next Presidency and on this note, I wish to seek for your full support for Dr Lim Chiew Wooi who will be my successor, hopefully before the turn of the year.
Kei Joe LEONG