Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Australian Dentist Shortage Acute As Training Program Cuts Bite

The Sydney Morning Herald (registration required) reports:

"The shortage of dentists in parts of rural NSW is so acute that numbers are less than one-third the average for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

n some country towns there are simply no dentists, says Associate Professor Hans Zoellner, chairman of the Association for the Promotion of Oral Health. Dr Zoellner said the OECD average was 56 dentists per 100,000 people. But the Central West has only 17.3 dentists per 100,000 - similar to levels in some developing countries.

"Studies have shown that children in rural areas have significantly more dental decay than children in urban areas," he said.

"Preventable dental hospitalisations are almost twice as frequent in rural areas compared with metropolitan areas.

"Rural residents are also 50 per cent more likely to have teeth extracted than metropolitan residents."

Cuts to dental training programs have contributed to the shortage of dentists. The number of dentists who graduate from the state's only dental faculty, at the University of Sydney, has halved in the past two decades - about 50 now, including foreign fee-paying students, compared with more than 100 in the 1980s.

The faculty's dean, Professor Eli Schwarz, said federal and state governments had failed to ensure there were enough trained dentists to cope with the population's health needs."

Read the remaining article here.

Sounds to me that they need some privately sponsored and supported dental schools in Australia.

Dentistry is more private than public there and what better way to satiate the demand for dental services than to privately provide for training.

It would be a mistake to involve the government in establishing a socialized and bureaucratic National Health Service like dental training program.

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