Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, at the Opening Ceremony of the International Dental Exhibition & Meeting 2014 (IDEM 2014), 4 Apr 2014

Dr Tin Chun Wong, President, Fédération Dentaire Internationale (FDI)

Dr Kuan Chee Keong, President, Singapore Dental Association

Mr Michael Dreyer, Vice President, Asia Pacific Koelnmesse 

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

 

1.          Good morning. It gives me great pleasure this morning to join you at the 8th International Dental Exhibition & Meeting (IDEM) 2014.

2.          IDEM Singapore, I am told, has evolved to a “must-attend” event for all dental healthcare professionals and related industries in the Asia-Pacific region. This exhibition showcases the latest in cutting-edge technology and innovations in dental services and solutions.

3.          I understand that this year, we have a record 8,000 participants from more than 60 countries. Exhibition space has also grown by more than 30 percent from the last event in 2012.

4.          The theme for this year’s conference, “Dentistry - The Future Is Now”, focuses on the need to address the future challenges and opportunities of Dentistry and the dental profession now.

Providing affordable dental care

5.          With a growing and ageing population, not only in Singapore but throughout many developed and developing countries, demand for dental care in this region will continue to grow. In Singapore, to ensure affordable dental care even as demand grows, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has introduced and enhanced the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), which provides means-tested subsidised dental care at more than 370 private dental clinics islandwide not only for the elderly, but also for the whole family regardless of age.

Geriatric and Special Needs Dentistry (GSND) initiatives

6.          The fast ageing population in Singapore has also increased the need for our dental professionals to constantly upgrade and update themselves to manage the increasing complexities of dental healthcare for the elderly.

7.          MOH has a number of initiatives in preparing for the ageing population. For Dental manpower for example, we have the Geriatric and Special Needs Dentistry (GSND) scholarships to nurture dentists who specialise in the management of dental problems in medically compromised, frail and immobile elderly patients. We look forward to growing our expertise in this field.

8.          In terms of infrastructure development, the National Dental Centre will undergo a facility upgrade to better support the management of the more complex and frail elderly patients. Similarly, the upcoming Centre for Oral Health at the National University Hospital (NUH) has plans to include facilities to support greater clinical training and exposure of our undergraduates in the management of the Geriatric and Special Needs patients.

9.          In addition, the Ministry will continue to support the hosting of visiting experts in Geriatric and Special Needs Dentistry through our Health Manpower Development Programme (HMDP).

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

10.      Whilst our focus is on the ageing population, we recognise that oral health is an important part of overall general health.

11.      I am encouraged that the Singapore Dental Association and our major teaching institutions continue to play a major role in helping our general practice dentists expand the scope and depth of their knowledge and skills through regular continuing professional education programmes.

12.      These programmes and courses are essential to provide many non-specialist and general practice dentists, and our Oral Health Therapists (OHT), with advanced skills and the most up to date clinical practices and technologies in assessing and managing the full spectrum of patients.

13.      All these initiatives augur well for the development of the profession, and I am confident the profession will continue to grow in knowledge and skills that are relevant for Singapore.

14.      However, the practice of dentistry involves more than just arriving at a correct diagnosis and delivering state of the art treatment. It demands that you deliver all these to the patients with care and compassion, dignity and respect, while ensuring cost efficiency.  You must always have the best interests of your patients in mind.

15.      In closing, let me congratulate the organisers of IDEM 2014 for continuing to put Singapore on the world map with major international dental trade exhibitions and world class conferences. I wish all of you a successful, fruitful and enriching meeting.

 

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