Johannesburg – When talking about healthcare, especially volunteering, rarely will we associate that need with dental health. However, Medical News Today reported on studies that have proven a direct link between critical diseases, such as cardiovascular problems and even Alzheimer’s disease, and poor dental hygiene. So, when you can’t see a dentist, you open the door to very real health problems.
“We were overjoyed to be able to host a dental awareness campaign between 28 May and 10 June 2018. The idea was born when Dr Pestana volunteered earlier this year and were shocked at the appalling state of oral health in the area, especially amongst children,” says Barbara McGorian, Tshemba Foundation director.
A study published in the South African Dental Journal by Dr Ramphoma found that “while 84-90% of the South African population is dependent on the public oral health services, only one quarter of all South African dentists were employed by the public sector in 2009”. Furthermore, the study revealed that in 2002 up to 60% of South African children suffered from dental decay, and 32% needed orthodontic treatment.
In 2017, research was published based on the state of dental health in Limpopo, which indicated a great need for preventative care and dental education. So, when Colgate, The Dental Warehouse and Wright-Millners offered equipment and mobile units, it was like a dream-come-true.
“Our dental programme comprised two elements: the education, screening and treatment of school children in the mornings, and the treatment of adults in the afternoons. All of this was done free of charge thanks to all the volunteers and dental donations we received,” comments McGorian.
The campaign proved to be a huge success. Over 8 000 Grade R to 4 children were taught about basic oral health and the importance thereof. The children also received toothbrushes and toothpaste, and the Grade 1 pupils were screened and, where necessary, treated by the volunteer dentists in the Colgate mobile units. Focus shifted in the afternoons to adults; the volunteer dentists and hygienists treated just under 200 adults at various clinics in the area.
“We would like to extend our thanks to each and every volunteer, the team from Sefako Makgatho University, Colgate, The Dental Warehouse and Wright-Millners, as well as the permanent staff from Tintswalo Hospital and Hlokomela Clinic. Lives have been changed thanks to your donations,” concludes Godfrey Phillips, Tshemba Foundation director.
About Tshemba Foundation
We offer a unique voluntourism programme. Our aim is to improve access to healthcare in low-income communities in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, while enriching the lives of qualified medical professionals. Our volunteers (local and international) reside in a 5-star lodge, while providing essential medical care at the surrounding hospitals and clinics, as well as upskilling local healthcare providers. Contact Barbara@tshembafoundation.org or visit www.tshembafoundation.org for more information.