Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, Singapore Dental Council Dentist's Pledge Affirmation Ceremony, 11 November 2011, 6:30pm at College of Medicine Building Auditorium, MOH

1.    It is my pleasure to be here today to mark this important milestone in your careers as dentists.

2.    This evening you will be reciting the Dentist’s Pledge. This marks your transition from the rigours of University education into your chosen profession to practise independently as Dental Surgeons in Singapore.

3.    The Pledge signifies your commitment to uphold the values essential to the dental profession, not only to have the necessary knowledge, skills and experience of dental practice but to maintain the highest standards of moral integrity and intellectual honesty.

4.    The practice of dentistry involves more than just arriving at a correct diagnosis and delivering immaculate ‘state of the art’ treatment to your patients but demands that you deliver all these and more to the best of your abilities with care and compassion and in the best interest of your patients.

5.    The practice and delivery of Dentistry in Singapore needs to be constantly evolving to meet new challenges as they arise.

Dental Manpower

6.    The population of Singapore has been growing and certainly aging. The percentage of our elderly aged 65 years and above is projected to rise from 8.4% in 2010 to 18.9% in 2030. The government already is putting in place social and fiscal policies to respond to the challenges of a graying population. We will also need to meet the increasing demand for dental services as a result of our ageing society.

7.    With us today, are 37 dentists who graduated from the National University of Singapore and another 22 foreign graduates who play an important role in boosting the capacity and capability of our healthcare workforce.

8.    Our plans are to gradually increase the numbers of both our local as well as foreign trained dentists. In this regard, we intend to increase the intake of dental students at NUS from 48 currently to around 80 by the year 2020.

9.    Separately, we are looking into the possibility of enhancing our infrastructural capacity to better support dental training and the provision of clinical services and research.

Increasing number of relevant dental specialists

10.  The Dental Specialist Register was established in January 2008 with seven specialties recognized by the Singapore Dental Council. More will be added to this list in future as the changing demands on the dental profession evolve.

11.    A workgroup has been established to implement and strategize the development of a new specialty in Geriatric and Special Needs Dentistry. This is imperative in the light of Singapore’s rapidly ageing population. Elderly patients are more prone to a variety of diseases as a result of the physiological and psychological effects of aging. Specialists in Geriatric and Special Needs Dentistry will be working alongside other dental and medical specialists in order to cater to the increasingly complex nature of dental healthcare that is required to adequately manage these patients.

12.    Since 2008, the Ministry of Health has offered postgraduate training scholarships in Geriatric and Special Needs Dentistry. I would encourage you to consider taking them up.

Affordable Dental Healthcare

13.    The Ministry of Health will continue to ensure that dental healthcare remains affordable for all Singaporeans. The expanded Primary Care Partnership Scheme (PCPS) is one such means by which the Ministry hopes to achieve this. Under this scheme, private general practitioners and dentists can provide common outpatient medical and dental treatment at subsidized charges. The list of dental treatment covered by the scheme has been expanded to include more simple tertiary dental procedures, such as crowns, bridges, dentures and root canal treatment.

14.    This expansion of the PCPS scheme will not only reduce the waiting time for these procedures at the public clinics but also make it more convenient for patients to visit a participating dental clinic nearer their homes.

15.    This is to ensure that Singaporeans from all walks of life, especially those who are less privileged, the needy, and the elderly will have access to good dental healthcare.

Transparency of Dental Charges

16.    While our public dental services are currently about a quarter of the private sector, we will continue to serve as a reference for dental charges across the profession and for this my Ministry will continue to publish the average bill sizes for some of the more common dental procedures in the public hospitals and institutions.

17.    The private sector has been invited to participate in this to allow greater transparency of dental charges across the island and I am encouraged that many of them who have been approached are receptive to this proposal.

18.    My Ministry is also looking at setting up a portal within our website where the profession and the public can provide feedback on the practices by dental professionals. We hope that the profession will see the benefit of this and contribute in a meaningful way to self regulation.

Conclusion

19.    Your future careers in Dentistry will be exciting and all of you are stakeholders in shaping the development and progress of the profession in Singapore.

20.    In closing, I would like to once again convey my heartiest congratulations to all the new graduates and registrants and I wish each one of you a successful and fulfilling career.

21.    Thank you.

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