Friday, 13 July 2012

Nagpur Dental college celebrates gutka ban on foundation day

NAGPUR: The Government Dental College and Hospital ( GDCH) had an added reason to celebrate its 44th foundation day thanks to the ban on gutka in state. The college had been working towards this end for a long time. Apparently, the ban has come after serious inputs on impact of gutka were given to the health and medical education departments and the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) by various dental colleges in Maharashtra. GDC had enough data and evidence to justify the ban. The college, however, admitted that the long drawn battle against tobacco industry was only half won.

"Dental doctors may not have realized that they were fighting against a very powerful lobby. It is definitely half the battle won and remaining half remains until all tobacco products are banned," said Dr Ved Prakash Mishra, pro-hancellor of the Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences, a deemed university. He was speaking at the 44th foundation day celebration function of GDC.

Few people may know that the bill banning gutka was supported by scientific evidence and research conducted by GDC and a few other dental colleges. GDC dean Dr Vinay Hazarey told TOI that a GDC study conducted ten years ago had shown an incidence of 2-3 persons per thousand suffering from sub-mucal mucosa, a disease (the patient cannot open mouth) caused by gutka and tobacco chewing. It leads to oral cancer if not contained in time. This figure touched 5-7 persons per thousand in 2005 and is projected at 10 per thousand this year. The overall incidence of gutka related diseases including oral cancer is seen to be as high as 46.2% in common population.

Dr Hazarey is sure that this time the ban would stick as compared to earlier bans, the legislation as well as evidence was extremely strong. "To me the ban is inclusive of all food items containing tobacco and nicotine in any form. Hence it should include kharra as well. In fact, kharra is much more dangerous and its effects are more serious than pan masala," said Dr Hazarey. Since de-addiction is a slow process GDC is also taking an initiative of counselling the addicts who wish to quit gutka.

It was a big win for the GDC students who have been working for creating awareness against gutka consumption for many years. The Students Association took out a rally to celebrate the ban on the occasion of the foundation day. Dr Mishra, Dr Hazarey, Ashish Deshmukh, treasurer of Vidya Shikshan Prasarak Mandal which runs the NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences, Sandhya Gotmare, Zilla Parishad president, joined the students in burning an effigy of gutka and pan masala before the rally.

To make its side stronger the state government has filed caveats in all the three benches of Bombay High Court. Bharti Dangre, additional government pleader, filed a caveat on Friday in Nagpur Bench in case anyone decided to challenge the ban.

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