Economic Stimulus Package for Dentist owned Dental Clinics In India

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On 22nd March 2020, The nation was forced into a Pan India Lockdown due to The COVID 19 Health care crisis. Though this virus had taken its time to reach our shores it had already taken its toll on several western countries before that. 

On March 15th, 2020 The New York Times published an article titled “Workers who face the Greatest Corona Virus Risk”.   Dentists were Placed as the most at risk of contracting Coronavirus by virtue of working in close proximity to the patient’s mouth and also due to the high volume of aerosols produced during routine dental procedures. On April 8th, 2020 The Center for Disease Control Officially recognized the Risk to dental professionals and came out with clear guidelines to be followed during the pandemic. The CDC guidelines advocated all dentists to not do any elective procedures and /or any procedures that generate aerosols. 

However, in Inspite of Guidelines by several international agencies neither ICMR nor The Dental Council of India Came out with any guidelines for Dental Practice during the COVID 19 pandemic. In the absence of any guidelines from theses bodies Dentists throughout India voluntarily shut down their practices, firstly to avoid becoming super spreaders and secondly to not compete with frontline health care providers who were fighting against Corona for Personal protective equipment. This collective act of restraint and self-discipline by the entire Dental fraternity has gone unrecognized to date. 

A Survey that we had conducted among our peers had shown that more than 95 percent of Dentists had shut down their practices after March 22nd. For more than 70 percent of these Dentists, their Practice was their only source of income. Like every other citizen of this country, we dentists accepted this burden as part of the price that had to be paid to fight against this terrible disease. 

On the 1st of May, the third extension of Lockdown was announced by the govt with some relaxations. One of them being that Clinics could start operating following proper social distancing protocols. On the same day, The Dental Council of India finally came out with its guidelines for Dental practices During this Pandemic. Further to these guidelines, it is now apparent that a majority of dental clinics operating in the country (Including Govt Hospitals ) would need a major overhaul of their infrastructure to be COVID Ready. However, The long lockdown period combined with the undue delay by the Dental Council of India to come out with appropriate guidelines has put a majority of Private Dental Practitioners in a Financially compromised position. Further, we are also an acute shortage of appropriate personal protective equipment. In this Desperate Scenario, we are left with no choice but to plead with the Government for Some form of relief. 

We herewith propose the following measures for Your Kind Consideration 

1. The Government Can facilitate the  Procurement of Personal protective equipment at a fair or subsidized price for Dental Health care Professionals.

2. The govt Through Nationalised Banks can make available to Dentists Loans at a subsidized interest rate and an Interest-free Moratorium period of at least 6 months 

3. The Govt can make appropriate amendments to the relevant laws, so that basic and emergency dental procedures are covered by Private and Govt health insurance policies 

4. Regularization of Biomedical Waste disposal and preferably this should be directly handled by a Govt agency 

5. Electricity charges for Dental Clinics can be calculated based on Residential tariff instead of Commercial tariff. 

6. Free Life and Health Insurance Cover for Dentist 

7. Legal protection for dentists from any Litigation due to accidental exposure to the Corona Virus in a clinical situation.

We kindly request you to consider our proposals favorably and Adopt them with expedience.