Indonesia embraces telehealth to improve dental services

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Indonesia embraces teledentistry to improve dental service coverage

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Indonesia caries free by 2030? In addition to social and school dental care programmes, the government is now using free teledentistry consultations in its strategy to improve the coverage of dental care. (Image: BK Awangga/Shutterstock)

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Teledentistry consultations are expected to increase after the Ministry of Health of Indonesia and the Indonesian Dental Association issued fresh guidance for dental services and finalised a scheme for free remote consultations. The changes aim to adapt Indonesia’s provision of oral care to the realities of life in the pandemic and to embrace technology in order to extend access to dental services.

Free teledentistry consultations will be offered to patients so that they can consult with dental professionals remotely. Speaking at a virtual press conference on 22 March, Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin announced the changes and commented that there was a dire need to boost oral healthcare provision. The minister pointed to 2018 data that showed that more than half (57.6%) of those who live in the populous archipelago suffered from oral health problems and that only around 10.2% of the population had access to dental care.

Close to 278.5 million people live in Indonesia, according to UN data, making it the fourth most populous country in the world.

“Dental and oral health is one of the health problems that need our collective attention. Currently, dental and oral health problems in Indonesia are still very high,” Sadikin said. He added that “Various factors that cause dental and oral problems [range] from lack of awareness, reluctance, and difficulty in accessing professional health services.”

Indonesia has set itself the goal of becoming caries free by 2030, and the improvement of education about oral health will be crucial in reducing the incidence of oral diseases. The data cited by Sadikin showed that only around 2.8% of the population brushed their teeth properly.

Jakarta-based Antara News reported in February that the government was developing digital infrastructure and new regulations for telemedicine, which is a pivotal area in health services. The overhaul was not exclusively in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and involved providing patients with greater data and legal protection. A spokesman for the Presidential Staff Office commented that the government was preparing smart regulations that would enable it to keep pace with rapid developments in healthcare technology.

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