Reality Bites - The Dilemma of Pakistan Dental Association sign now

Pakistan Dental Association (PDA) is an organization of Dental Surgeons of Pakistan, which is a non-profitable corporation organized and registered under the law of Govt. It was founded in the 1950s by the efforts of Dr. Hassan Raza (late) Ex-Principal deMontmorency College of Dentistry, Lahore, with the following aims, objectives and functions:

AIMS AND OBJECTIVE

To promote the science and art of dentistry.
To maintain the honor, interests, dignity and unity of the Dental Profession.
To safeguard and defend the interest and integrity of the members of the Dental Profession through ethical, moral or legal means at the disposal of the Association.
To enlighten and educate the public on Dentistry, Oral Health and Prevention.
To encourage and direct study and research in the field of Dental Sciences, Dental Epidemiology and related subjects.
To influence the policies of the Government on Oral Health of the public, the Dental Profession and Dental Education by extending professional and expert help, advice and cooperation of the Association and its members.
To guide and help members of the profession especially fresh graduates in the establishment of their career.
To hold periodic conferences and meetings of the Association for continuing dental education, and discussion of scientific subjects, professional matters and for social purpose.
To correspond, associate, cooperate and collaborate with other dental and professional bodies throughout the world to further the cause of the profession, this association and its members.
To establish and run programs to further the above objectives in communities, schools, madrassahs, cities and all such areas where people can be educated for prevention of oral health diseases.

FUNCTIONS

Maintain a national body representing organized dentistry in Pakistan; namely, the Federal Council of the Pakistan Dental Association and its Federal Executive bodies.
Maintain a national headquarters for the Association
Manage the Association's finances
Maintain a continuing communication with the members
Maintain the records of the Associations activities and history

THE CURRENT SITUATION

The PDA is 50 years old and the ground reality is quite pathetic with many of its aims, objectives and functions not yet achieved. We will briefly identify each arena of functional deficiency with its current conflict/dilemma.


(I) The PDA headquarters:

The first and foremost function was to establish a national headquarter. Using PDA funds, two plots in Karachi and Lahore was acquired for this purpose. Unfortunately the plots were not registered under the name of the association but instead they were registered in the personal names of the dentists on the PDA board at that time (names and documents can be provided on request). Therefore the plots are legally NOT PDA property. In fact, at the present moment they are occupied by land mafia in collaboration with same PDA officials who are getting personal benefits. The market value of these plots exceeds 40 million Pak rupees.

This issue has been repeatedly raised and in the last central council meeting of PDA held in November 2006 it was resolved unanimously by the council that the present PDA will acquire the ownership of the plots within 6 months and the authority was given to PDA Council members (please refer to PDA website for further details). However, this issue has still not been resolved and the current PDA council has not given an explanation for this silence despite repeated requests. The said PDA officials continue to benefit.

(II) PDA Finances

One of PDAs functions was to maintain a history of activities and transparent management of finances. To date the finances of PDA have never been made public but in fact concentrated effort has been made to keep this information private. Millions of rupees have been generated through memberships, conferences, selling the PDA seal etc and all have been managed by office bearers of various times. To date there has never been a financial audit of the PDA funds. It is illogical to manage finances without a central headquarter and without audits.

An example to highlight this apparent embezzlement is the 7th International Dental Conference of 2003 and 28th APDC held under the banner of PDA. It was resolved in the central council meeting of Nov 2006 and then in general body meeting of PDA at Lahore that their audits will be conducted, but sadly till date no audits have been done.

(III) Monopolization of PDA by select few dentists

Of the above mentioned aims and objective, the focus so far has been mainly on activities which generate funds and benefit a few select dentists rather than the growth of the association. This can be attributed to the fact the board members of each PDA council are always the same and they juggle their seats with each other in every election, giving rise to the notion that PDA members are selected, not elected. The string to this yoyo of the central council seats is in the hands of a few big fish in Karachi and Lahore which is why the central council, for the past 50 years, has ALWAYS been from Karachi and Lahore alternately. The rest of the provinces have been sidelined and hurdles are created to stop their involvement.

Extension of tenures of board members and election dates has been the norm of these selected councils. An example of bending of rules and regulations for personal benefits can be seen in the current situation regarding election dates. In the last general body meeting, elections for the central council were scheduled for 1st December 2008. Without any consensus, this date was extended by the current central council to April 2009. The reason behind this move is the National PDA conference to be held on December 22-24th 2008, an opportunity to generate funds that should be missed! In fact the central council meeting of 18th Nov 2006 unanimously had decided that the International conference will be given to Peshawar and the National conference to Quetta, which now is in Lahore for reasons unknown.

The PDA office bearers have always nominated their cronies for FDI, APDA and international conferences. Yes, some of the nominated are highly qualified and have the merit deserving these nominations. However, the politically correct procedure is to inform all PDA members and invite application and selection be made on merit. This procedure has so far never been carried out by the PDA.


(IV) Miscellaneous

All PDA constitutional amendments in the past couple of years have not been registered with the government. It is logical to conclude that PDA is working presently under amended constitution without legal authority. One of the functions of PDA was to communicate with its members. The best way to do this was to circulate a PDA newsletter to all its members free of cost, on quarterly basis. This was a very good idea, but it only remained an idea and yet still is an idea as no PDA newsletter has been circulated to its members, since years and years.

WHAT NOW?

With the rapid mushrooming of private dental colleges, the dental community today is growing at a tremendous rate. Current statistics show that nearly 50\% of the dental community is made up of young dentists who graduated in the last five years.

The PDA has been operating, rather inefficiently, without transparency and for personal benefits by a handful of dentists, all of whom are nearing or past the retirement age. They are well entrenched in the system they have created and vigorously refuse to accept or accommodate any change which will threaten their existence. In fact they have openly exhibited an aggressive stance in the face of requests to hold the next central council elections solely for candidates who are young and from NWFP, Federal and Balochistan provinces, giving the old veterans from Lahore and Karachi a break from the yoyo act. This request was to provide an opportunity to these zones to participate more fully in the PDA, a fact which hold water as today, there are far more dentists from these areas as compared to the past. It has been rejected by the current PDA.

Fifty years is a long period of time to streamline an association and especially the dental association which is relatively a very small association. The PDA needs a revamping and the time is now. The PDA needs young, fresh blood to infuse a new enthusiasm into the dental profession. It is time to re-look into the original aims and objectives and work towards achieving them. Millions of rupees have been generated which should be used to the benefit of the association and its members.

MESSAGE OF THIS PETITION

The message to the young generation is to wake up, think and work for the profession rather than only thinking about self benefits. The current PDA has shown its stance of absolutism of the old way. We have two options; let this PDA die out (literally) and hope the next generation is better, or actually isolate the present PDA and SET UP A NEW DENTAL ASSOCIATION. This dental association should be taken over by the predominant bulk of the dental community and that is the young generation. The lawyer community has woken up and has literally challenged the national government. The least the dentists can do is to wake up and challenge the dental governance.

A group of likeminded individuals have proposed a manifesto for the proposed dental association.

The Dental Association will:

1. Conduct a transparent audit annually which will be circulated to the members as well be placed on the web site.
2. All dental surgeons registered with PM & DC will be the members.

3. Work for Establishment of a DENTAL COUNCIL separated from the current PM & DC.

4. Develop a culture of continuing dental education which will incorporate credit hours

5. Establish a Central Secretariat for PDA which will, in addition to the basic requirements of an office, have a

i. Full time staff

ii. Complaint office

iii. A comprehensive library (contributions will be welcome)

iv. Digital Directory

v. A guidance center to help young dentists to establish their careers.

6. Establishment of National + Community Oral Health Programs.

7. Publish a monthly or quarterly newsletter which will be available online as well.

8. Play a role in maintaining quality control of dental products.

9. Allocate funds to regional and zonal dental associations.

10. Nominate international and national conferences on absolute merit and turn.

11. National/international dental conferences will be held in collaboration with Dental Institutions on rotation basis.

Start by signing up for the new Dental Association.

THE TIME IS NOW!!

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Etta ChapmanBy:
School and EducationIn:
Petition target:
Dental Surgeons of Pakistan

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