Based on recent University of Queensland figures (2010), more than 80% of people in Vanuatu live in rural communities and these are spread across 85 separate islands stretching over 800km from north to south. At last count, there were six dentists for a population of around 200,000, giving a ratio of 1:34,000, compared to around 1:1,900 in Australia.
As more and more people adopt a western-style, sugar-based diet, there has naturally been a rise in tooth decay and infection, particularly in the urban areas, but the corresponding message of oral health care and prevention has been slow to take hold.
So it was with great interest that Software of Excellence recently received a request for assistance from a group called the Vanuatu Dental Care Service; their mission being to establish a low cost, non-traditional dental program building skills and capacity at the local village and community level.
Specifically, the program would be based on three key elements - Education, Prevention and Treatment and with AusAID funding, it would involve the establishment of a dental clinic in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, as well as the training and equipping of local healthcare workers to grow and extend the service to all areas of the island-chain.
In support of the project, Software of Excellence donated OASiS software licences and training and on February 15, as part of their intensive four-week training course, visiting Vanuatu Dental Workers, Bob Natuman and Morinda Toara arrived for a successful day of software training with trainer Allan Lim.
Now back in Vanuatu, Bob and Morinda are using the OASiS software as a management tool in the Port Vila clinic, between delivering their oral health message in schools and conducting dental screening of children and new mothers.
Want to help?
The program is currently seeking volunteer dentists to assist for 1 week a month in Port Vila. In August, they will be looking for a dentist with a boating background to join the yacht on a 2-week medical mission around some of the islands of Vanuatu. If you are interested please email Rob Latimer at email@example.com.