Orthodontic dental technician Andrea Johnson is heading out to Uganda with oral health care charity Dentaid. In this brief article she explains why, but how she will find the time is a mystery, read on…
In March 2016 I will be travelling to Uganda with a team of oral healthcare volunteers working under the Dentaid banner. Our mission will be to enable people of disadvantaged communities to achieve an optimal level of oral health by accessing appropriate, sustainable, primary oral health care services in their community.
Over the last 20 years Dentaid has grown into a global charity that has worked in 70 countries. Its team is relatively small – with just 10 staff and an incredible team of volunteers based in temporary buildings in the New Forest – but the work it does is huge.
From the migrant camps of Calais to deprived Aboriginal communities in Australia, the tropics of South America to Timor Leste and Cambodia, Dentaid really has brought pain free smiles around the world.
Currently Dentaid is performing great work in Africa with projects such as the one I plan to join in Uganda, and with other teams working in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Dentaid responds to global tragedies including natural disasters and people displaced by war. The charity is dedicated to ending unnecessary suffering caused by dental pain − wherever people are and whatever their circumstances might be.
In Uganda Dentaid has supported several community outreach projects where dentists have performed extractions, fillings, scaling and preventative treatments in addition to screening children's teeth in schools.
During my two-week volunteering trip to Uganda, the team I shall join will treat hundreds of adults and children who have no access to dental care. The trip will include running clinics in the slums of Jinja and working in remote rural locations, providing oral health education projects and treating people in pain.
I have over 10 years’ experience in the dental industry and I’m keen to put everything I’ve learned to good use. I’ll be helping out by assisting in improving the laboratory provision in these disadvantaged areas, providing dental laboratory based education to Ugandan dental professionals and by helping out with Dentaid’s oral health education programme.
I am proud to be an orthodontic dental technician working at the Royal Derby Teaching Hospital, and being Vice Chair of the Orthodontic Technicians Association (OTA) keeps me busy, but not so busy that I can’t find time to help others. I have become a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) healthcare ambassador, which means working with local schools to help engage and inspire children of all ages to look further into STEM subjects while also supporting them in their learning and development through STEM events, careers fairs, mock interviews and more. I get as much from working with those children as I ever put into it, they are an inspiration.
I’ve spent many years working within the NHS because I believe all people should have access to good quality healthcare regardless of their financial status. NHS dentistry is becoming something of a hot topic thanks to the new contract becoming stalled in pilots and prototypes, but the powers that be should never lose sight of the value of affordable oral healthcare. Britain in the 21st century should never allow itself to become a nation that accepts people living in pain and misery because they can’t afford treatment and government funding isn’t there.
I feel privileged to be working with Dentaid because of my beliefs. It is an extremely worthwhile charity that is constantly working to help improve the dental health of people who do not have access to the care that we sometimes take for granted. It is an honour to be able to work with them to help improve the lives of even a few people in pain, and to add my small contribution to such a worthy cause.
If you wish to make a donation please visit Andrea’s donation page https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/andreajohnson1
Or check out the items she is auctioning to raise funds for Dentaid on her eBay account − seller name: true_atlantian