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Papua faces shortage of dentists, uneven distribution challenges access to oral healthcare

Tabloid Jubi - October 12, 2023

Jayapura, Jubi – The availability of dentists in Papua Province remains significantly inadequate to meet the needs of the local population, and their distribution is also uneven. These concerns were raised by Florence Fransiska, chairperson of the Indonesian Dentist Association (PDGI) Jayapura Branch, during an interview with Jubi on Tuesday, October 10, 2023.

Fransiska pointed out that there are currently 130 dentists serving in Papua island. However, in the Papua Province alone, there are approximately 100 people.

"It is still far from sufficient to cater to the needs of the Papuan population," she stated.

Approximately half of these dentists, which amounts to 40 to 50 individuals, are stationed in Jayapura City. This concentration of dental professionals in Jayapura City, as opposed to being evenly distributed across the region, is partly due to the high cost of dental equipment and materials, most of which are imported from abroad.

Fransiska called upon local governments to pay attention to the well-being and safety of dentists, particularly those working in rural areas of Papua.

When asked about the ideal number of dentists required in Jayapura City and Papua Province, Fransiska referred to the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). An ideal dentist-to-patient ratio is 1:7,500. However, the 2021 data published by the Papua Office of the Statistics Indonesia (BPS) indicates that there were 118 dentists in Papua Province at that time. Out of these, 51 were stationed in hospitals, and 67 worked in health centers.

Wtih 3,3 million people in Papua Province as of 2020, the ideal number of dentists should be around 400 individuals.

In Jayapura City, the data from Jayapura City reported 14 dentists serving in government agencies. Considering the city's population of 300,192 in 2020, the ideal number of dentists should be around 40.

Regarding the dental workforce in Papua, Fransiska explained that the number of dentists can increase when recent dental school graduates pass the competency test, allowing them to work in accordance with regulations.

PDGI, the Indonesian Dental Association, is the only professional organization for dentists in Indonesia. It plays a significant role in uniting and supporting all dentist members across Papua by enhancing their knowledge, skills, and competence. The organization also provides guidance and supervision to dentists working in various sectors, including hospitals, health centers, and clinics. (*)

Source: https://en.jubi.id/papua-faces-shortage-of-dentists-uneven-distribution-challenges-access-to-oral-healthcare