Leading with a courageous and humble heart

Hailing from an archipelagic country in South East Asia, Dr Jose Angelo Militante, president of the Philippine Dental Association, shares how his vision led the organisation in rising above the challenges of the pandemic and how it continues to do so.

Dr Jose Angelo Militante is the current president of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) who graduated from the Centro Escolar University in 2001 with a degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine. Prior to becoming an officer in PDA, he was a full-time clinician running his practice.

“In my early practice as a dental professional, I experienced having patients with dental complications. It was then when I realised that to help more patients, I have to expand my knowledge in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects involving the face, mouth, and jaw,” he shared.

With the support of his colleagues and mentors, Dr Militante further his studies on definitive patient management. He took postgraduate courses and attended international programmes and fellowship training to specialise in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

“As a dentist and an oral maxillofacial surgeon, I manage patients and their dental concerns ranging from the simplest to the complicated. The complicated cases are challenging, but I find fulfilment in seeing that my patient has received the quality of life they deserve no matter how debilitative their illness may be,” he said.

In 2011, with this vision and achievement under his belt, Dr Militante became an officer in PDA and held various roles over the years.

“I was the secretary-general of the PDA Annual Convention in 2011, the PDA executive secretary and the chairman of the Committee on Continuing Dental Education under Past President Hon Roberto Tajonera. The early positions I held in PDA, collaborating with the team, inspired and challenged me to take more responsibilities,” he shared.

He believes that these experiences have made him a better person, which encouraged him to step up and lead the organisation.

Rising above the crisis

Dr Militante assumed the presidency of PDA in June 2021 under the most unusual time and challenging conditions.

He noted: “The Philippines started to feel the impact of the pandemic in March 2020 and the PDA was also caught off-guard. I faced concerns from the previous months, but the biggest challenge for me was how to bring the PDA back on track.”

Hence, his immediate task was to work with the PDA officers and consult with the members to create an adaptable framework for the continuity of their projects and programmes, which were mostly face-to-face and community-based such as their oral health education programmes and delivering preventive and interceptive procedures in the community.

Under his leadership, PDA also released the advocacy called “Oral Health Can’t-Wait”. In this advocacy, the family is showcased as the first dentist through their programme “Pamilya ko Unang Dentista ko” which translates to “My Family is my First Dentist”. They also encouraged the public to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste and reduce the consumption of sugary food and beverages. On top of that, they also launched non-smoking advocacy called “Commit to Quit”.

Dr Militante shared that the PDA is privileged to have proactive and adaptive past and incumbent officers but has emphasised to his present team of officers that from now on, he wants PDA to be ready for the future.

Thus, strategies were implemented to address the concerns of the public in terms of seeking dental care with the threat of virus mutations.

He expounded: “During the early part of the pandemic in the year 2020, PDA was one of the first professional organisations to release COVID-19 interim guidelines in the country. These guidelines aim to provide clinicians with a list of safety procedures on how to handle the current situation in their dental clinics.

“The guidelines are constantly reviewed and updated to adapt to the evolving conditions. Along with the policies of WHO (World Health Organization) and FDI World Dental Federation, these assure our patients that dental clinics are practically safe during these times.”

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