Health Ministry’s Dental Technician Clampdown Delayed 6 Months
The Health Ministry has
delayed the deadline for a crackdown on unlicensed dental technicians beyond September, a health official said on Friday.
The government, through a regulation of the health
minister last year, had set early April for the deadline, after which dental
technicians could no longer open private dental practices.
Supriyantoro, the health ministry’s director
general for health efforts and guidance, said the April deadline had been
postponed by six months.
“The health minister’s regulation should have
come into effect as of April 1 [at which point] dental technicians could not open practices, but
it is true that there have been some protests and therefore we are postponing
it,” Supriyantoro said.
He estimated that the county had some 75,000
dental technicians — experts in false teeth manufacturing and other dental services who have
no formal dentistry qualifications. He said the government was aware that many of
those 75,000 were their families’ sole breadwinners.
“The implementation of the regulation cannot
be that black and white, but we also have to think that the public needs to be
protected too,” Supriyantoro said.
With the additional time before the ban takes
effect, the ministry hopes to provide training and guidance.
“We will train and provided them a
certification as skilled dental technicians. I cannot yet say whether after
those trainings they will be able to open private practices, as that has not yet
been decided,” Supriyantoro said.
He said that the trainings would provide standard
competencies in making acrylic false teeth.
Faisol Abrori, the general secretary of the
Indonesian Dental Technician Association (ITGI), said the six month stay would not
provide any relief because in October, thousands of dental technicians would
still lose their livelihoods.
“If it is said that there are dental
technicians who violate the rules, then why should the entire profession be
killed? There are also many medical doctors who engage in malpractice, but the
doctors as an institution have not been disbanded,” he said.
Faisol also said the government’s plan to provide
“guidance” was unclear.
“The mechanism is unclear and it also remains
unclear what the fate of dental technicians after that would be,” he said.
The government has argued that more and more
dental technicians are performing tasks beyond their competency, such as filling
cavities, performing root canals and even fitting patients with braces despite
only being licensed to make acrylic false teeth and carry out other basic procedures.