Healthcare is all over the news these days it seems. Doctors are nervous about Obamacare’s long term implications. Many Americans are worried about the quality of care. Many other Americans though welcome the new Affordable Care Act.
Our country, however, is far from alone when it comes to healthcare problems. Looking beyond our borders to distant lands like South Asia, we learn that in Pakistan more than 13,000 illegal and unqualified dentists provide dental care for people, quite literally, in the streets.
The Man on the Street
Like its neighbor India, Pakistan suffers from extremely high levels of uninsured people. As much as 78% of the population doesn’t have access to basic medical care. The majority of Pakistanis cannot afford private health insurance. Though Pakistan is a former British colony—and many former ones have national healthcare—it does not have a national system.
The government has initiated crackdowns on these street vendors. The problem is that the government has no viable substitute. These dentists may not be certified or qualified, but for most Pakistanis their services are better than nothing.
One of the main issues with street dentists is—even if they’re qualified or adept at their trade—infection. They don’t have properly cleaned tools nor antiseptics. Instead they mix a reddish concoction that purports to disinfect instruments. In reality, though these dentists provide an invaluable service, they’re spreading severe diseases.
For Pakistan the healthcare problem is complex. It’s not merely a matter of money. It’s part of a larger socio-economic issue. As often happens in nations, the gap between rich and poor is only widening. Certified, qualified dentists naturally cater to those that can pay.
Within Islamabad just a few miles from the street dentists are dental offices that look like ours here. They’re decorated with modern art and decked out with high-tech equipment. They perform all the same high quality cosmetic and functional dental care we receive over here.
These top-of-the-line dentists too have issues to deal with. They’re not simply greedy or cold-hearted. Their rates have gone up because they have to import their dental equipment. By way of example, a standard dentist’s chair in the U.S. costs as much as a luxury car in Pakistan. These dentists also have to cover the costs of their foreign-trained schooling.
It’s a difficult problem to say the least. If government hospitals do offer free care, they’re often swamped with patients. When it comes down to it, 200 rupee ($3.23) for a dental appointment is the best, desperate option available.
Dr. Sam Sadati is the owner and practitioner of The Sadati Center of Aesthetic Dentistry in West Palm Beach and a leader in the world of cosmetic dentistry and smile design. He is the only accredited cosmetic dentist in all of South Florida and is one of only forty dentists in the world to receive an Accredited Fellow honor from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Apart from creating beautiful smiles, Dr. Sadati enjoys photography, travel, and the opportunity to tell a good joke. If you have a question or comment, dental-related or otherwise, connect with us on Facebook orTwitter. We always reply to our fans and followers!