Dr Erry Krisnawati and Dr Benny Soegiharto
On behalf of the Indonesian Association of Orthodontists (IAO)
Please describe how Covid19 has affected orthodontic practice in Indonesia.
The Covid19 pandemic was formally declared by the government of Indonesia around March 2020 and at that time there was a sense of confusion of what the scale of the pandemic was. In a matter of weeks following the formal announcement, we heard news of some casualties, which included colleagues within our own society. The authorities implemented restriction of movement nationwide and that included orthodontic practices as well as activities in the dental school. All academic teaching were required to be converted to virtual meetings and all clinical practice including those in private practice were halted immediately. This severely affected the running of the business aspect of dental and orthodontic practices.
What government support and guidelines have been implemented?
Around September 2020, the authorities allowed dental services including orthodontics to resume but only for essential and emergency purposes. New protocols were implemented, and all clinicians were required to screen incoming patients with self-declaration health and travel questionnaires, temperature checking and crowd control to ensure adequate safe distancing and air circulation within surgeries. Full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is made mandatory for all dental staff and staggering between procedures were required to give ample time for in-between room cross- infection.
Starting early 2021, the government finally initiated nation-wide mass vaccination programme with priorities given to those who work in the medical sector. Since then, the programme has been extended to all sectors including elderly with various vaccine brands available throughout all the provinces.
In July 2021, the government once again implemented national restriction as the pandemic raged, although the medical sector was allowed to operate with extra precautions.
How has the Ministry of Health (MOH) helped its members during this difficult period?
In the early stages of the pandemic, PPE including N95 masks and face shields were scarce. We were fortunate that the government and many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) made a concerted effort to assist the medical sector with PPE provisions.
How have the members of your Society coped with the changes?
Throughout this difficult period, the IAO tries to maintain a close relationship with our members by providing guidelines for safe orthodontic practice and reminding our members to adhere to the government and PDGI advice and guideline. This is to ensure safety of our own members as well as the patients. The members of the IAO also helped our colleagues who might not be able to work due to health concerns by seeing their orthodontic patients.
Moving forwards, how do you think orthodontic practice will change?
It has been a year and a half since our members could attend a physical meeting. A lot of activities as well as seminars were all converted to a virtual format. I am sure our members are coping well, although we are all longing to have normal meetings once again with physical attendance as well as travelling to overseas conferences.
New technologies would certainly help orthodontic practice to cope with the pandemic and the era following that. More efficient and effective treatment approach and perhaps with less frequent attendance would certainly be the way forward. Although I must say that the basis of Orthodontic Diagnosis and Treatment Planning would certainly be as comprehensive as it has always been. The use of instant messaging such as Whatsapp, Line, etc would also assist us in maintaining efficient communication with patients.
Please write a message to all APOS members from the IAO
To all my dear friend of APOS, stay safe and Healthy. Hopefully this pandemic will over soon. We can’t wait to see all of you in person.