SRINAGAR: Expressing serious concern over unhygienic dental practices in Kashmir, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday said this is responsible for high rates of hepatitis infection in the valley.
“Both government and private dental clinics are not following guidelines on infection-control putting patients at risk of serious infections like hepatitis and HIV,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement.
“You go to a dentist to fix your teeth or gum problems, you are at risk of contracting these deadly infections due to breach in infection-control standards,” he said. “Most of the dental clinics use unsterilised or improperly sterilised instruments endangering the safety of patients. The tools are not cleaned in between patients. The disposable items which are for single-use are reused on patients. Unsterile needles are used in multiple dose medication vials.”
He said dentists do not change gloves in between patients and use same gloves for every patient that leads to cross-infection. “Patients are not screened for hepatitis and HIV prior to intervention resulting in transfer of these viruses from one patient to another,” he added.
Dr Nisar said there is epidemic of hepatitis infection due to unsanitary dental conditions in the valley. “According to a study published in 2017, screening of 2000 patients who attended Government Dental College and Hospital, Srinagar revealed prevalence of 12 percent for hepatitis B and C infection respectively,” he said.
“38 percent population of two twin villages of Takia-Magam and Sonbarie in Kokernag area were found to be infected with Hepatitis C infection,” DAK president said adding that during a screening in 2015, 84 persons were found positive for hepatitis B virus in village Diver of Lolab area.
“There are around 459 cases of HIV infection registered in SKIMS hospital,” he informed.
“Hepatitis B, C and HIV infections are serious medical conditions and infected patients may not have outward symptoms of the disease for many years,” Dr Nisar said.