Last October, the new charity Bridge2Aid Australia was launched in Sydney. Australia's dental community were asked to join a growing international movement to help combat dental disease in East Africa.
Now there is news of the difference that the charity is making. The first training programme that Bridge2Aid Australia contributed to took place at the end of November and there they met 28-year-old Elia (pictured above). Elia had been having a rough time of it and he had cycled for two hours to try to get some help. He said that he'd had a bad toothache for 2 years and there was nowhere he could go to get help. The week before, he was in so much pain that he paid a local practitioner to take out his tooth with a screwdriver. Elia said: "After extraction, I fainted due to the severe pain and much blood loss. My wife and the local doctor became worried about my condition. It took 30 minutes before I regained consciousness. I thank God that I didn't die. I sometimes blame myself for seeking a treatment from that untrained man, but I had no option than running to him thinking that he could stop the pain. Dentists can only be found in the district hospital; we can't afford to travel there because it is so far away".
Fortunately for Elia, his journey to the Bridge2Aid training programme resulted in one of their trainees extracting the tooth, meaning he could resume his life - free from pain and the threat of worsening infection.
In Australia, a dentist's priority would usually be to save teeth. Unfortunately in the developing world, extracting the tooth is usually the only practical option - as leaving it in place would only cause further suffering and complications. Bridge2Aid trains health workers to carry out emergency care in rural areas in Africa where there are very few resources available. The skills that Bridge2Aid Australia is teaching means that basic dental care is available in these areas for the long-term future.
Speaking in Perth, Bridge2Aid Australia Honorary Chairman, Euroz Securities Executive Director, Mr Nick McGlew, said: "When communities suffer in pain with treatable conditions due to lack of primary healthcare, it becomes a major issue. Bridge2Aid Australia will have the capacity to free more communities from chronic pain by teaching extraction, cross infection control and oral health education to existing rural health workers, stopping months and years of agony for many and minimising the incidence of life-threatening infections".