REDI DOTI, Suriname –
The dental team of the Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team (LAMAT) was the first to see patients in a newly opened dental clinic in Redi Doti, Suriname on Monday. The Youth Dental Care Foundation’s (JTV) Redi Doti clinic will serve patients in rural communities, making dental services and preventative care more easily accessible.
The idea for an outpatient clinic to serve the rural neighborhood has been around since 2017, according to Minister of Health in Suriname, Dr. Amar Ramadhin.
“The population was asking for a clinic, and about a year ago, we began taking active steps toward making that happen,” said Ramadhin. “It’s important that this community has access to better healthcare. This clinic allows patients to avoid unnecessary transportation to a big city like Paramaribo.”
Local dentist and foundation board member Dr. Derrick Jessurun realized a need for property and immediately volunteered his land as a space for the clinic.
“They needed a place to operate in Redi Doti, so I gave them a piece of land and things they needed. It was a gift,” said Jessurun. “Having a clinic here will help the local population be healthier and increase prevention. Prevention is the key.”
Two dentists and three dental assistants began treating patients this week, focusing on children Monday and adults Tuesday. According to the LAMAT team, it’s an experience they will never forget.
“In my 23 years of providing dental services, there have been few opportunities both in my civilian and military career to provide my medical expertise in such a meaningful way,” said Dr. Suzana Gjekaj, LAMAT Dental Team Lead. “My team and I are extremely humbled to have been invited by the JTV clinic on behalf of the Ministry of Health to participate in the opening days of this new clinic in Redi Doti. This is an unforgettable experience that my team and I will never forget. From the supportive staff to the appreciative parents and the smiling faces of the singing and dancing children. We are extremely humbled to have been able to be a part of this experience.”
The demand for the clinic comes from a lack of dental professionals in the region. Suriname has a population of just over 600,000, with approximately 50 dentists. Some of the most rural villages are only accessible by water or air, so the more clinics available, the more easily accessible healthcare can be for the Surinamese population.
Services provided at the clinic will concentrate on curative care, as well as prevention. The village of Redi Doti was chosen based on multiple factors, to include ease of access from nearby villages as well as the quality of nurse technicians in the local area who can provide dental care.
During the opening remarks, Ramadhin expressed his gratitude for the LAMAT mission.
“The effort you’ve made to help the people of this country is noticed and appreciated,” said Ramadhin. “On behalf of this community, and on behalf of our government, we thank you for what you’ve done here.”
Currently, the dental clinic is offering low-cost care, with plans to create an insurance payment system for children and elderly patients. Two local villages, Pokigron and Moengo, will also have access to a JTV outpatient clinic soon.