Graeme's Message, 18 June 2015

Dear Rotarians and friends,

We recently heard from Jamie Robertson regarding his latest visit to Vietnam and a brief summary was included in the Bulletin of May 28th. As President I have received two reports of the Rotary Australia-Vietnam Dental Health Project visits of 2014 and 2015. These provide greater details of these visits, that warrant sharing.

There have been 24 visits by project teams since 1992 with the original objective of providing primary dental care to rural school children. This expanded to encourage and enhance disease prevention strategies through school based oral health promotion and tooth brushing with fluoridated toothpaste. A similar aim is to introduce the same strategies in Ethiopia, with a program supported by our club to the Ethiopian community and a grant from Foundation.

This year the team provided primary care to nearly 400 children at Tan Chau but on previous visits up to 600-700 children have been treated. Facilities are not always ideal with limited functioning dental chairs on this recent visit. However, an autoclave donated by the visiting team allowed efficient and reliable sterilization of instruments. Approx 7 restorations were required for each child treated – a total of 1135 being performed.

Oral Health Surveys, designed by WHO, were conducted on twelve year olds providing information for longitudinal studies. The children studied on this visit showed a high rate, by international standards, of decay or caries. It is hoped that school based preventative measures that were taught enabled by the donation of toothbrushes and toothpaste will improve this situation.

Dental Students have been part of the visiting teams and in 2013 they surveyed the restorative work from previous visits providing quality control on the treatment provided.

In 1998, specialists joined the project team and they work and teach at the National Hospital of OdontoStomatology in Ho Chi Minh City. They review patients operated on during previous visits and work together with local staff treating patients with cleft lip/palate and dentofacial deformities. This partnership enables the transfer of knowledge to local specialists and on ward rounds to junior surgical staff and nurses.

Jamie and his team are to be congratulated on the project that provides preventative and primary care along with complex surgical treatment in conjunction with local practitioners.

A great example of Rotary in action.