A visionary leadership in COVID-19 turmoil times

Fiji, an archipelago in the Oceania region in the southern Pacific Ocean, is known for its 333 islands, white sand beaches and year-round tropical warmth. With the pandemic affecting the oral health of its population, this Pacific Island nation continues to smile through the rough times thanks to Dr Parikshath Naidu’s leadership.

Dr Parikshath Naidu, president of Fiji Dental Association and a practising dentist at Shortlane Dental Centre, graduated with a Bachelor in Dental Surgery at the Fiji School of Medicine in 2003. He completed a post-graduate diploma in orthodontics in 2006 and have also taken courses in dental implant.

Prior to his current position, he was a dental public officer at one of Fiji’s major hospitals, the Lautoka Hospital Dental Department for three years before serving as acting senior dental officer at the dental department of Sigatoka Town Hospital for a year. He then decided to move into an independent private practice to expand into the multiple fields of dentistry.

Rooting from a family of medical professionals and engineers, he was inspired to pursue a career in dentistry because it allowed him to transform lives by combining art, science and engineering principles.

“Until this day I enjoy exploring gadgetry, working with biomedical teams, and bringing together out-of-box ideas into the dental operatory to enhance patient experience and treatment,” he shared.

The five years he spent as a dental student were one of the best and memorable years of his life. In fact, he saw the journey as an adventure – guided by professors who selflessly motivated students to aspire to be better. It was a life-changing experience, inspiring him to go beyond the clinical aspect of care and be a part of the Fiji Dental Association.

“Two individuals, Dr Bernadette Pushpaangaeli and Dr Vikash Singh, both who were my tutors and later served as respected presidents of the Fiji Dental Association are my role models and biggest influencers.

“By simply restoring my patient’s oral health to the best of my ability, I have been able to transform their lives, which in turn impacts their families, community, careers and beyond. This has enabled me to gain the respect of my mixed culture community,” he said.

The president’s vision

Fiji Dental Association started its journey five decades ago with a handful of dentists who saw the need to formally register an association so as to be the voice for the dental profession in Fiji. The Association aims to provide service to the profession while ensuring that the community had access to quality dental healthcare, which was kept updated through relevant professional development and peer support.

Assuming the highest position in the Association back in year 2020, Dr Naidu’s leadership was tested immediately when the first case of the virus alarmed the world.

“I viewed the outbreak as an infection that affects the human body. Any infection would try to spread through the pathway of least resistance and in our country with limited resources, complicated channels of communication, and complex cultural influences, I predicted that in a short time the outbreak would cross the border and enter into our community,” he shared.

Dr Naidu foresees it becoming endemic to the region, thus the need for feasible and achievable protocols tailored for Fiji’s dental setting became his priority.

Continue reading here. Published in Dental Asia January/February 2022 issue.