Vanuatu is a Pacific Island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, where rapid population growth, rural to urban drift and geographic isolation make the delivery of healthcare services very difficult. Inadequate and irregular budget allocation to healthcare practices means there is a critical shortage of human resources, with as little as 17 dental personnel for the 234,023-strong population.
Sadly, the main cause of illness and death is from preventable or treatable conditions.
How is Smile Vanuatu helping?
One of the volunteer groups striving to change this is Smile Vanuatu. With 2017 marking their 7th visit to the island, each year they dedicate their time to improve oral hygiene through health promotion, education, research and activism. The group is made up of a variety of dentists,k therapists and assistants from all Australian states.
Providing aid to the locals on Malekula island, the group works under the direction of a Vanuatu dentist and the manager of the Norsup Hospital. They travel in the back of the UTE to visit school children and oral screening takes place within the school grounds. Any child requiring further care is given the opportunity to attend the Norsup Dental Clinic for emergency treatment.
A successful venture
This trip alone saw them visit three primary schools, three kindergartens and one high school, examining 711 school aged children. They taught them how to effectively clean their teeth and gave them the tools to continue practicing good oral health. In total 27 emergency extractions and 23 restoration procedures were performed.
Smile Vanuatu also offers a rural placement with third-year Bachelor of Oral Health students from Central Queensland University. They continue to be invited back to Vanuatu to assist with the public health programme and continue to bring a brighter future to patients they visit.
If you would be interested in this programme, please contact: email@example.com