Dental health problems in Southeast Asia are some of the worst in the world. In the Riau Islands of Indonesia, there is only 1 dentist for 78,000 people. Poor nutrition, lack of access to dental care and poor hygiene habits are some of the main causes of dental health problems in this area. It is not uncommon for adults in their 40s to be missing half of their teeth. Dental problems can lead to more serious health issues.
Our first training in 2012 empowered 18 Indonesian aid workers as basic dentists and assistants, in partnership with mPower, a 501(c)3 USA non-profit. In 2013 a follow-up training coached 3 teams of backpacker dentists who are now using this program successfully in remote islands. They have established 2 permanent clinics and 2 mobile outreaches to nearby villages and islands. Each group of workers is outfitted with a solar-powered dental chair and equipment that folds into a backpack, developed by iTEC. This enables easy travel around the islands bringing dental services to people in need. Each chair was partially subsidized to lower the cost for these workers to $250 USD. They use the income generated by their dental services to partially fund other outreaches in the area.
In addition to the dental training, 22 other workers completed basic health worker training by mPower. This empowers them to work as basic-level health care providers in remote islands with almost no access to medical care. They are trained to screen vital signs, recognize danger signs, treat basic wounds, and make referrals to regional clinics.
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