A supporter of the charity Timor Children’s Foundation, A/Prof Liz Jones (Griffith University School of Applied Psychology) initiated collaboration with the Griffith University School of Dentistry and Oral Health to discuss the scope of final year dentistry students experiencing the skills of providing dental care for underprivileged patients in East Timor. Access to dental treatment in the region is extremely limited with around 6 dentists in the entire country of East Timor.
For the past 3 years the Timor Children’s Foundation has coordinated a mobile dental clinic to travel from Australia to Timor to provide much needed dental education and care with over $60,000 worth of dental care provided last year for an approximate cost of $10,000 of funds sought through fund raising.
On behalf of Griffith University’s School of Dentistry and Oral Health, Professor Peter Reher and Dr Vanessa Reher visited East Timor in June to gain insight and make an assessment of the dental project with consideration for potential clinical education opportunities for our dentistry students.
Timor Children’s Foundation (TCF) is a not for profit small charity established in 2002 with the goal of helping disadvantaged children in East Timor. An area of focus has been the Timor Dental Project Appeal.
Using state of the art, lightweight, portable dental equipment, the dental team’s goal was to provide dental care for the children of Samaria Children’s Home in Dili and then as resources permit, extend care to other local children and adults in need of dental care.
For the past 3 years, the Timor Children’s Foundation has sent a mobile dental team to Timor to provide dental care and education. Dental health in Timor is extremely poor due to limited access to dental treatment. Timor Children’s Foundation has developed a model of providing dental treatment using a mobile dental unit.
In a previous visit in 2017, the Foundation provided approximately $63K worth of dental treatment with $10k sourced through fundraising activities.
TCF has previously treated children in an orphanage in Dili, a large primary school in Dili and a health clinic at Los Palos. The dental team was initially comprised of Dr Malcolm Campbell and a dental assistant but has expanded to include a 2nd dentist, Dr John Fisher and oral surgeon, Dr Mark Tuffley, as well as 2 retired teachers developing the dental education component for children and teachers.
Griffith University Professional Dental team join TCF’s Dr John Fisher in June 2018:
Following discussions with Griffith University’s School of Dentistry and Oral Health, Professor Peter Reher and Dr Vanessa Reher joined Dr John Fisher and other TCF volunteers in Timor tasked with scoping the project for potential clinical education opportunities for final year students of Griffith’s School of Dentistry and Oral Health.
With the mobile dental clinic established in the corner of a local church, the 3 dentists operated 2 mobile dental chairs during four and a half days treating mostly children from a local primary school (ages 5-15) and some teachers.
Summary of treatments performed:
Comprehensive Exams / Cleans – 188
Extractions – 235 (mostly heavily decayed / abscessed deciduous teeth)
Surgical extractions – 5
Resto’s/ART – 57
Provisional bridge – 1
Total value of treatment provided (QLD Health prices) – AUD $69,072
The Griffith / TCF team received a visit from members of the Australian Embassy and the Timor Health Department who are active with monitoring regulation of charity services in Timor. A number of local trainee dental assistants observed and assisted where possible.
It is acknowledged that the demand for dental education, treatment and prevention in the region is large with the outcome of dental disease often devastating for many.
Professor Reher and Dr Reher found their experience in Timor humbling and have reported an assessment on the potential opportunity for the development of clinical educational placements for Griffith University final year dentistry students.