|BOralH students Lara Mayze and Sarah Johns, conduct health promotion and education on Malekula Island.|
Bachelor of Oral Health (BOralH) students and staff from the University of Queensland’s School of Dentistry recently returned from volunteering in Vanuatu.
Students Lara Mayze and Sarah Johns, and Lecturer Andrea Maguire collaborated with Vanuatu Health and not-for profit organisation, Smile Vanuatu, on a mission to improve the oral health of children in Norsup, Malekula Island. The team provided over 820 school children with screening and education.
“Ms Maguire inspired us to volunteer and we’re so glad she did - it really was a life changing experience,” Sarah said.
Under Ms Maguire’s mentorship, Lara and Sarah performed dental assisting, oral hygiene instruction, and conducted oral health promotion activities at various schools, with much of this taking place outdoors.
“We conducted most of the promotion in open areas where the children practiced their circles, scrubs and flicks - so it was a very unusual for us,” Lara said.
“Seeing the team practice with such calm and ease in a foreign environment was truly inspirational.”
More complex treatment such as ART (Atraumatic Restorative Technique) restorations, extractions, debridement and other preventative procedures were provided for 174 of the children at the Norsup Hospital dental clinic.
The team transported over 450 kilos of dental supplies to Malekula Island, including 800 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste. Materials were donated by individuals and businesses throughout Southeast Queensland.
Joining the UQ representatives was Dr. Julianne Tevi (Dentist, Vanuatu Health); Christine Southall (Dental Therapist); Louise Jones (Dental Therapist); Jill Smith and Jaliesa Douglas (Dental Assistants); Gaven Smith (Clinic Maintenance); Megan Cable and Ariel Shih (Oral Health Therapists, UQ graduates).
“It was a great opportunity for us to provide culturally appropriate and accessible dental care for the people of Malekula,” said Sarah.
“This is something we won’t forget.”
Above: Smile Vanuatu Team 2012