By Carla Albertí de la Rosa
The Bali Times
KEROBOKAN prisoners this week received dental treatment from a team of 10 dentistry students and four qualified dentists who went to the jail as volunteers under a programme organised by the Bali International Women’s Association (BIWA) and its Australian-funded mobile dental clinic.
In a four-hour visit on Monday the team treated 112 inmates, 75 of them women. Three of those treated were foreigners.
BIWA’s charity programme aims to provide inmates with basic dental care and dental health education.
Only one government-employed dentist is available to treat the 663 prisoners currently in Kerobokan.
The dental students and dentists taking part in this week’s visit to the jail were all from Mahasaraswati University. One of the dentists, Yadha Rahina, said the inmates they treated had very bad dental hygiene. The main workload was filling small cavities and extractions.
“We have seen a few people with infected teeth that we can’t deal with because we don’t have the equipment to operate on them,” she said.
One of the prisoners, A.A Raka Trisnadewi, complained that the prison’s dentist meant to pull out one of her molars but instead of pulling the whole of it out she was left with half.
Bali Nine prisoner Andrew Chan, who has been in Kerobokan for five years, said there had been only one dentist at the prison for the past two years and before that the only option for prisoners had been to arrange for a private-practice dentist to visit.
“Even now there’s a dentist I have to have my wisdom teeth taken out and I’ll have to go to the hospital for that as the dental care at the prison is very basic and the dentist here is not fully equipped,” he said.
BIWA raised Rp4 million (US$444) for the one-day programme which was spent on vitamins, medication, disposable material that totalled Rp1,110,000 ($123) and a small bag for each of the patients that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste and medicated soap.
The programme aims to visit the prison periodically to treat prisoners.
BIWA’s chief, Melly St. Ange, said they need more donations to improve the dental care of all inmates. “We still have only limited equipment and because we have excellent hygiene standards, everything is sterilised, but the cost of the equipment is very high,” she said.
The programme is part of BIWA’s scheme at the prison, which includes providing raw materials for inmates to produce handicrafts and helping them to sell their own paintings, and for basic infrastructure works such as cleaning the septic tank or building a water tower.
The dentistry students took part in the initiative as part of their internship programme and although most were in their senior year and had treated real patients before, for some, it was their first time.
Ivan Ledoh, a 19-year-old student who is in the fourth year of his six-year degree course, said: “I’ve always practised on fake models and now that I’m going to work on real humans I’m a little nervous, but very excited.”
For him, treating a prisoner is no more of a challenge than treating any other person. “They’re the same as anyone else,” he said.
The initiative is part of a cooperation programme between BIWA and Mahasaraswati University’s Dental Faculty. It began six years ago and has focused chiefly on dental health and education for children in remote areas of Bali.