Message from MDA President

Dear Esteemed Members of the Malaysian Dental Association,

Zest Up Your Practice is a lively call to all dentists to bring life, vibrancy and excellence in knowledge and skills to the practice of dentistry which has been identified as one of the best professions to be in, not just because it gives us quite a good living, but also because it lends itself to being challenging, satisfying and flexible in terms of lifestyle and time management.

Our deepest appreciation to the Organizing Chairman Dr Neoh Leong Seng and his amazingly creative and diligent team for putting together such a wonderful MDA SCATE Congress and running it with verve and detail in the service of their fellow colleagues, profession and the industry. Our best wishes to all the supporting dental traders that they will have great business that will grow and grow, not to mention the outstanding group of speakers and teachers who are imparting their incomparable skills and knowledge to us. Great job all of you!!

2017 is going to be an exciting year! For a lot of reasons. I wanted to share on the 3 points below. Since there is space only for the first, I shall leave the other 2 vital points for you to ponder and reflect upon:-

The price of freedom is responsibility.
The price of sugar is more than the RM3.00 a kg. we pay at the counter.
Be prepared for the age of the data driven shared economy.

Recently, we have to remind ourselves and others in the healthcare sector that dentists are basically physicians who happen to specialise in the mouth and the surrounding structures. But before we can do that we have to spend 2-3 years studying the rest of the human body before focusing on the mouth for the subsequent 2-3 years, constantly being reminded by our teachers to always keep the overall health of the patient in mind. Simply put, we are primarily clinicians, not technicians, though we are largely involved in the technical aspects of dentistry, materials and equipment. No healthcare professional worth his or her salt will look at health in a compartmentalised manner, but rather, in a holistic manner knowing full well that any disease of one part of the body is a disease of the whole body.

The FDI(International Dental Federation) defines oral health as:- "Multi-faceted and includes the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease of the craniofacial complex. It is a fundamental component of health and physical and mental wellbeing." Dentists are basically physicians who happen to specialise in the mouth and surrounding structures. In fact in many countries they are called odonto-stomatologists which is a more accurate description of the scope of a dentist.

As dentists and dentistry are at present upheld as a vital part in the field of medicine, it is good to be reminded that responsibility comes with an equivalent need of moral determination to match up with the good faith and trust placed upon us by society and our fellow men. If we are determined to be trusted and respected to maintain our freedom to practise dentistry, we must be just as determined to be self-regulating and self-disciplined to practice within our skills and knowledge and to refer when necessary, always striving to educate and improve ourselves via seminars, workshops, conferences, study clubs, mentoring methods, MOOC(Mass Online Open-source Courses), internet learning and part-time and full-time courses... basically whatever it takes to get there. There should be increasing availability of credible postgraduate courses both part-time and full-time.

If we do not want to be policed, we must police ourselves. The price of freedom is responsibility. Or like what Nelson Mandela says, *"The time has come to accept in our hearts and minds that with freedom comes responsibility."*

As for the sugar, please make yourself available on Sunday 15th at 11am onwards to listen to the public lecture on "Economic Transformation and the True Cost of Sugar" by Dato' Sri Idris Jala with Harith Iskandar and Chef Wan as special guests.

The data driven sharing economy is the future and dentists will have to embrace it or get left behind.

Friends! Have a great congress!!

Dr Chow Kai Foo
BDS(Spore); FDSRCS(Eng); AM(Mal)
Malaysian Dental Association
January 2017


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