The last two weeks UP has hosted a team of 25 dentists, dental assistants and support staff from Australia. They are members of the Australian Health Humanitarian Aid organization (AHHA). During the week they worked closely with our UP dental students and staff to provide treatment for about 500 patients – mostly disabled children, and children and adults from poor communities. This was the first time the Australian team had visited us, and they were very happy to have such modern equipment to use in our clinic – as they had expected much less.
The UP dental students in years 4 and 5 were allowed to provide much of the treatment under the close supervision of the Australian team. Some year 3 students assisted. The Australian team brought their own materials and instruments – but where necessary our own UP instruments were used. The clinic was very busy for the 6 clinical days of the visit – with some people coming from as far away as Koh Kong to get treatment. For the first week we had an Australian pediatrician present who checked the patients’ health before treatment. All patients received dental health education and gifts from the Australian team. Several social events were held for the teams which contributed to the warm and friendly relationship between the UP staff and students, and the AHHA team.
On the Thursday of the first week, the Australian team gave a full day of lectures to our staff and students, with topics ranging from management of patients with HIV/AIDS, sedation and trauma management in children, and implants. The visiting pediatrician also conducted a half-day workshop for medical students on patient assessment and other topics.
At the end of the visit certificates of appreciation were awarded to all the participants by UP and AHHA. We hope that this visit can become an annual event, so that we can learn from each other and help many of those who do not normally have access to basic dental services. Thanks to UP for making its dental clinic, staff and students available for this mission, and to the AHHA team for their generosity, willingness to serve, teaching, and compassion for those in need.