Mirza was unable to eat solid foods properly and suffered from pain and discomfort.
An Iranian asylum seeker detained in Western Australia is claiming dental treatment after two years without dentures.
The man led a series of peaceful protests last week at Yongah Hill Detention Center in hopes of finally getting an appointment with a dentist. Its efforts have been directed outside of the on-site establishment of International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), as a private contractor selected by the federal government to provide primary health care services within the detention network. Australian.
Mirza, whose name has been changed, has been detained for more than nine years and his quality of life has been affected since his set of false teeth was stolen among several possessions in an incident with another detainee in 2020.
He told the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) that his requests for replacements with Border Force and IHMS had not been met, leaving him unable to eat solid foods properly and suffering from pain and discomfort.
“Refusing to make a dental appointment and providing Mirza with a set of false teeth is criminal,” RAC spokesman Ian Rintoul said in a statement. “This is a total breach of duty of care by Border Force and IHMS. Such a seemingly small thing has a huge impact on Mirza’s quality of life.
The IHMS claims to provide a ‘standard of care broadly comparable to that offered to the general Australian community under the public health system’. In custody, dental consultations are meant to be provided in-house, while access to external specialists, hospitals and paramedical health services is facilitated through IHMS referral agreements.
Every detainee, regardless of location, receives medical, dental, eye and mental health care and treatment – free of charge – as dictated by the Home Office in consultation with its designated health advisers, according to the Public Interest Advocacy Center.
The latest inspection of migrant detention centers nationwide by the Australian Human Rights Commission released in 2020 found that some people in larger facilities – including Yongah Hill Detention Center – were experiencing long wait times for medical appointments.
“You can’t rely on help when you really need it, and some people give up,” said an anonymous respondent. In Yongah Hill, a dental clinic was also expected to operate one to one and a half days a week before the pandemic.
“Such abuses are only possible because there are no checks and balances within the detention system,” Rintoul said. “It is built to brutalize and dehumanize those held inside the fences. Mirza has committed no crime.
Junkee has contacted the Australian Border Force and IHMS for comment.
Photo credit: Action Coalition for Refugees (provided)