Aussie dentists putting smiles on Nepalese faces
Nepal is currently facing an oral healthcare crisis. Fifty-eight per cent of children and 69 per cent of adults in the country suffer from tooth decay. Thousands of Nepalese in rural/remote villages have no access to basic infrastructure such as sanitation and potable water, making daily tooth brushing an impossibility. Meanwhile, intense superstition surrounds dental care, including the belief by some that tooth extraction can cause blindness.
A National Oral Health Plan was drafted in 2004, but is being implemented at glacial speed.
With Rotarian-like conviction to improve the situation and to continue the work of Dr Malcolm Deall, who established the Nepal Dental Project in the mid-1990s, Dr Sandra Meihubers, of the Rotary Club of Dee Why Warringah NSW, together with Community Health & Dental Society (CHDS) Nepal, planned a dental health program to reach into outer villages. CHDS’s Director Bishnu Shrestha is a qualified dental practitioner who runs dental programs, including school-based preventative programs, in remote villages.
CHDS organised the volunteer visit to reach into the small villages of Bhattedande, Dandagaun, and Deurali Kubinde, in Chautara region. Dr Karuna Khatri and Dr Henry Wong from Brisbane, Dr Henry Tramer, Ms Beck Welsh and Ms Monika Alston from Melbourne, together with Dr Sandra Meihubers formed the Australian contingent. Bishnu Shrestha, Jaya Mangal Baidya, Dr Gita Shrestha, Dr Renu Thapa, Dr Punam Kayastha, Dr Sabitta Shrestha from CHDS and bus driver Kumar completed the team.
The Australian team provided updated knowledge to the CDHS team about dental materials, techniques for composite resin fillings, dental x-ray techniques and processing of radiographs, and improved dental chairside assisting procedures.
The combined team attended 558 villagers selected from CHDS’s ongoing village sanitation project. In total, an amazing 768 services were provided. The camps were greatly appreciated by the villagers, some of whom walked more than a day to access this care.
Dentists interesting in joining Sandra on her future camp clinics can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org.