Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Indonesia - Supporting education and health for children

As we celebrate National Children’s Day on July 23, we may reflect on what we have accomplished for children, especially in our country.

To educate means to teach all things well. Every parent teaches his or her sons and daughters with the hope that someday their kids will become good and successful people. As adults, we give our best to this country and this world, but we should also do more for our children.

Every child deserves a good education, but more importantly, he or she should also be in good health to learn new things.

A wise doctor should not only heal patients with medicine, but also educate the patient to have healthy habits. As a soon-to-be pediatric dentist, I have treated many young patients. Often I find that children, regardless of their financial status, have a significant amount of tooth decay or caries. The Health Ministry reported an increasing prevalence of tooth caries from 2007 to 2013.

Furthermore, most children are afraid to see a doctor or a dentist. Maybe the image of a doctor, or especially a dentist, is that of a person who carries a weapon, in this case, a tooth drill.

Many children arrive at dental facilities when they already have dental problems such as tooth decay. It makes the fear-level higher because they expect the dentist to run procedures to treat their teeth that same day. Even for those kids who come to see me just for a dental check-up, many are quite scared.

In child psychology, we learn about child anxiety and fear and the way to manage those things. But parents could also help prepare them by talking to their kids at home prior to going to the dentist, At the very least, they would have an idea about what the dentist will do. Parents are the closest loved ones for the children, so they should build healthy habits for children from home.

With that background, my friend and I established a community for children to learn about simple things to keep them healthy. We created storybooks to teach them about healthy dental habits. The first book presents stories about going to the dentist and describes what the dentist will do if a child has cavities, or if he or she comes in for a dental check-up. The other book is about healthy tooth-brushing habits and why brushing teeth twice a day is necessary.

All of the stories are packed with colorful illustrations and we have reviewed the language and wording of the books with a child psychologist. We really hope this publication will help children to better understand the world of dentistry.

Each of us is unique in that we have our own strengths. I am trying to build a bridge between education and health. So, what will you do for the children, our future and our hope? Happy National Children’s Day!

Stella Lesmana

The writer is the founder of Kesehatan Untuk Junior Indonesia (Health for Indonesian Juniors) and is currently undertaking pediatric dentistry at the University of Indonesia.

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

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