Madurai:In view of the shortage of dental services, especially for the poor in government medical colleges, the Madurai bench of Madras High Court has directed the state’s health department to set up dental labs in all the 21 government medical college hospitals in the state by the end of the next financial year.
The labs will be well equipped and provided with required number of doctors and para medical staff, directed the court to the state health department, as reported by the TOI .
This has come in the backdrop of public interest litigation (PIL) filed earlier, highlighting the shortage of dentists and basic dental infrastructure at the Department of Dental Surgery of Government Rajaji Hospital, under proceedings before the division bench of Justice S Nagamuthu and Justice MV Muralidaran. The Court hearing the PIL on Monday, passed the said directions to the state health department with an aim to increase the number of dental labs and further help the poor get the required facilities.
However, the government showed its inability to set up dental labs and to appoint doctors before the end of this financial year, stating that the budget session was already over and it cannot work on it till the end of the present financial year.
The court on this further stated, “The Supreme Court has said a decade ago to provide proper medical facilities. Where are we now? Why does not the government do it? The full-fledged lab costs just 18 lakh. Can’t you spend it? The government can do wonders, if it want to. Otherwise, why cannot the court initiate contempt against the government?”. The government has been directed to get instructions from the health secretary in the matter.
The state government was asked by the court in a previous hearing of the PIL to submit a report on why poor in the state were not getting the facility of dental services properly and why there were no dental labs in districts when the health department was granted permission for the establishment of more than 25 private dental colleges in the state. The report was submitted in response by the state in the matter, reported The Hindu.
The judges had made inquiries in the case with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon attached to the GRH, after the PIL was filed and found out that there were only four doctors in the Dental Surgery Department to treat 130-150 outpatients who visited the department every day. It also had just six beds — four for women and two for men — to treat inpatients, reported The Hindu. The GRH had specialists for only four out of seven disciplines in dentistry also there was no Ceramics Dental Lab at the GRH, the second largest government hospital in the State, though such laboratory was essential to make dental crowns, also known as caps. In the absence of a endodontist, root canal therapy could not be performed on any of the poor patients who had no choice but to approach the only Government Dental College Hospital in Chennai.
The court had earlier asked the government, “The writ petition alleged that there were 110 doctors on deputation. When you denied it, the court had asked for a report relating to the number of doctors and nurses who are at present on deputation in hospitals in the state. But, you have stated that there are 18 people in the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai. What about the status in the remaining hospitals?”
It then asked for a fresh report from the government. The court also expressed concern over the non-availability of proper dental care treatment to the people in the state. The court came to know about this through the principal of the Tamil Nadu Government Dental College (Chennai) B Saravanan who appeared before the court and said that 2,500 patients per month are subjected to root canal therapy at the government dental college in Chennai. It asked him, “Will the district not have at least 500 patients? Is a lab not must for them in districts? As an academician, what did you suggest to the government to promote dental care in the state?.”