A pioneer in public oral healthcare: Dr Sajeev Koshy, OAM

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Dr Sajeev Koshy is recognised for his outstanding contributions to the field of dentistry and public oral healthcare in regional Victoria

Melbourne’s Dr Sajeev Koshy has been felicitated by the Government of Australia for his outstanding contributions to the field of dentistry and public oral healthcare in regional Victoria.

“I am extremely elated but deeply humbled,” Dr Koshy told Indian Link. “This award is recognition of what we have achieved and the services that I and my team have been able to provide to public dentistry. But above all, I consider it to be inspirational to perform beyond one’s call of duty.”

Currently Head of Endodontics at The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne, Dr Koshy is passionate about improving the community healthcare system and accessibility to timely dental care especially in regional Victoria. Apart from offering his clinical expertise to several public dental clinics across the state, he also serves as the Director of Dental Services at Boort District Health and Clinical Director at Plenty Valley Community Health.

He is also the Clinical Accreditation Surveyor, Australian Council on Healthcare Standards and a current member of the Victorian Oral Health Promotion Advisory Group.

Dr Koshy has been strongly committed to community and public dentistry. A native of Trivandrum, Kerala, he completed his graduate studies in dentistry from the Trivandrum Dental College and almost immediately plunged into the public health care system of the state. He has served as the President of the Dental Council of Kerala and was an active member of Rotary International through which he has carried out several community projects, both in India and abroad.

Providing compassionate care to the disadvantaged has been Dr Koshy’s priority. As a Rotary Dental Volunteer, he has worked on many international projects, including an UNHCR project with Vietnamese refugees, Project Amigo with orphans in Mexico, in Guatemala with Quechi Indians and with Kikuyu tribes in Kenya. It was during this time abroad that he began entertaining the idea of further specialising in dentistry. He moved to New Zealand with his young family and trained in endodontics at the University of Otago.
While there, he also got himself an MBA degree, and became one of the first Australasian doctors to hold a business qualification.

Why would a dentist undertake an MBA degree? “It has helped me to bridge the gap that exists between clinical practice and the economics of the healthcare system,” Dr Koshy revealed. “It’s a decision that has helped me immensely by allowing me to understand the public health system better and thereby execute effective strategies and change management policies.”

Moving to Australia, he was appointed Director of Dental Services at Bairnsdale Regional Health Services. During this time, the average waiting period for a patient in regional Victoria was 57 months. Dr Koshy assembled a highly functional team and implemented several cost effective and innovative healthcare models which brought this waiting period down from 57 months to seven months in just two years.

Dr Sajeev Koshy is no stranger to awards; an entire book will have to be dedicated to the meritorious services that he has performed so far, positions he has held and honours he has received. He was the first recipient of Victoria’s Public Healthcare Award in 2007; he claimed the Dentistry Achievement Award of the Australian Dental Association in 2008, and also went on to receive Victoria’s Multicultural Award for Excellence in 2012 for his commendable contributions to the multicultural community.

A visionary par excellence and a keen believer in social justice, Dr Koshy’s priority has always been to provide compassionate care to young children, the disadvantaged, survivors of torture and bushfire-affected patients. He has also worked extensively to improve the oral healthcare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What advice would he give to new migrant doctors and medical professionals arriving in Australia?

“Adopt best practices, keeping commitment, service and delivery in mind. Integrate and adapt well into the Australian way of life while keeping the vast heritage and culture of India alive in your heart.”

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