Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dentists Without Borders

These past two weeks we were host to a group of Danish dentists and dental students in their final year. This group had chosen Cambodia for this year’s campaign to help developing nations  with poor health and dental care. I had written about the poor and practically non-existent public health care system in Cambodia before. So they couldn’t have made a better choice. As things go and all things considered, the 2 weeks were a mere drop in the bucket and they were limited to one village. It is one great symbol of how philanthropy works though, coming from people without the material means of millionaires or even billionaires, for whom it is easy to donate a couple of million here and there.

The villagers made good use of the free service and came in throngs, especially during the first week. This again goes to show how deplorable the government’s handling of public affairs, in this case health care, really is. When will governments in developing countries ever learn that building up a military is definitely not one of the top priorities? Health care, education, and infrastructure, including electricity, roads, etc. should be their main concern. But again, this government seems to believe that the development of the country is in better hands with civil society organizations or the private sector.

All the more admirable are the efforts of such foreign volunteers as this Danish group who use part of their vacation time to come and help destitute people. As altruistic as they are, they also pay their own way, e. g. airline tickets, hotel accommodation, and meals. You need firm convictions to go to such lengths to help other people. In Cambodia they cooperate with the One-2-One NGO  http://www.one2onecharitabletrust.org. Go to their website to learn more about them. This NGO selects the village and makes all preparations for the dentists once they arrive. They will also provide the help needed to make the performance of the dental services as smooth as possible. They use the village and a school there, in this case Ream, coordinate it with the principal and the teachers who will inform the students and their parents. From then on it is word of mouth, which is very effective in the countryside, especially once the locals learn it is free of charge. The villagers are taught how to use a toothbrush properly, learn to do it at least twice a day, and learn about which food to avoid and which is good not only for their teeth but general health as well.

We must all take our hats off to those nice, friendly, and unselfish people. The leader of the group, Mr. John Christensen, is a 76-year-old former professor of dentistry at the University of Copenhagen. Our compliments to all of them.

This charity covers a number of underdeveloped countries. If you would like to donate to their cause you can do this on their website.  

(By the way, did you know that the Danish people are the most satisfied, not to say happiest, people in the world according to an index that is compiled an annual basis. There are downsides to life in Denmark too, for sure, but all in all quality of life must be pretty good there.)

Initial check-up

Initial check-up

One-2-One Assistant

Converted school room into treatment room

Sterilized instruments

Waiting patients



Getting ready


Assistent from One-2-One NGO


One of the school buildings

Instrucstions which food is bad for your teeth

Treats for Cavity 

...and the good stuff

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