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News UK & Ireland

Dentaid volunteer Ruth Potterton during an oral health educational session at Umapad Elementary School in Cebu in the Philippines. (Photograph: Dentaid)
0 Comments Sep 11, 2017 | News UK & Ireland

Dental volunteers treat hundreds of children in Philippines

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MANDAUE, Philippines: Four volunteers working with Dentaid, a dental charity that provides essential dental care to people in the UK and to people in many of the poorest countries in the world, have recently returned from the Philippines. In a joint mission with two other UK charities, Team Rubicon and Serve On, the volunteers were able to treat 383 patients at Umapad Elementary School on the island of Cebu, many of whom had been suffering from long-term dental pain and needed extractions.

According to Dentaid, there was a high amount of caries, and with minimal equipment, the team had to rely on basic hand instruments, plastic chairs and head torches to treat patients. Owing to the limited access to dental care in the area, there were long queues and waiting times; however, the Dentaid team pointed out that they had never seen people so enthusiastic to receive care. In addition to the treatments, fluoride varnish was applied to the teeth of 185 children, and oral health educational presentations were given to 532 youngsters.

“We were totally in love with the children from Umapad school, who were so polite and well mannered,” said Ruth Potterton, one of the Dentaid volunteers. “The levels of decay were high and sadly lots of teeth had to be extracted.”

Each organisation involved in the project, dubbed operation “Katimbang”—the local word for “unity”—provided training and support in its respective field. Serve On provided emergency services in Cebu and taught children and staff what to do when a natural disaster strikes. Volunteers from Team Rubicon rebuilt and refurbished classrooms that were damaged during a recent tremor, transforming them into bright, cheerful spaces. Dentaid addressed oral health.

As education plays a key role in oral health, the Dentaid team visited a dental school to establish links with a new generation of dentists in the Philippines, as well as stopped by the University of Cebu to meet students learning English.

“The country and the people were wonderful and all 21 people from all three organisations have worked together selflessly towards the one goal. I would highly recommend volunteering, it has been a wonderful experience,” said Potterton. 

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