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Vinayaka Mission opens dental college in Malaysia

Associated Press

Posted: Feb 07, 2006 at 1130 hrs IST

An Indian institution is setting up Malaysia's first private dental college, hoping to fill a massive shortfall of dentists in the country.

The Penang International Dental College, located in the northern state of Penang, will be run by Vinayaka Mission's Research Foundation, which operates 21 medical, engineering, nursing and other colleges in India, the college's chief executive, Dr. S. Sharavanan, said Tuesday.

According to the World Health Organization, an ideal dentist to population ratio is 1:4,000, but in Malaysia the ratio is 1:10,500.

"The demand is huge. The market is ripe," Sharavanan, a radiologist by training, told The Associated Press.

He said the first batch of about 50 students will be admitted in March.

The students will undergo two years of pre-clinical education in Tamil Nadu, because the building in Penang has yet to be constructed. They will return to Penang in 2008, by which time the 55 million ringgit (US$14.7 million) college and hospital will be ready, said Sharavanan.

"This is where the practical, hands-on training will be provided, where students will be permitted to touch the patients under supervision of teachers," he said.

The facility - equipped with 250 dentist's chairs - will be the biggest dental college hospital in the country, and its teaching staff will mostly be from India. The bachelor of dental surgery degree awarded by the college will be recognized by the Malaysian and Indian dental councils.

Sharavanan said the college also hopes to enroll students from the Middle East, who share cultural and religious links with Malaysia.

Currently many Malaysians who don't get into a government dental college go abroad to study, spending up to 500,000 ringgit (US$130,000) on tuition fees alone for a five-year course. The Penang college will offer the course, including hostel facilities, for about half that price.

The Vinayaka Mission's Research Foundation, based in Salem, Tamil Nadu produces 10,000 graduates every year.

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