International Dental Volunteering

November 18, 2022by cayodental0

Volunteering in international healthcare facilities is gaining popularity. Volunteer efforts in dentistry are widespread in underdeveloped worlds like Sri Lanka, and many dental professionals and students from the developed world participate in these efforts. Volunteers’ reasons for giving their time and energy range from altruism and the desire to ‘help others’ to spiritual and career advancement. Concerns have been raised that certain volunteer programs may actually do more harm than good to the communities they aim to assist. It’s true that sometimes locals in host areas have a mixed reaction to volunteers. Unfortunately, often as a result of insufficient understanding, some projects have the potential to cause harm by being paternalistic, diminishing confidence in local health systems, failing to maintain patient safety, causing economic harm to local providers, and focusing more on volunteers than local communities. As a result, there is a call for further education on the concept among volunteer dental practitioners.

The following article is published by Andrew James Paterson in Dental Updates. The author discussed the experience of dentists who were involved in Tanzania. The first Dental Volunteer Programme (DVP) was established and launched in the Mwanza region of Tanzania by Ian and Andie Wilson, founders of the UK charity and Tanzanian Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Bridge2Aid, some 15 years ago. The goal of the program was to provide emergency dentistry training to rural Clinical Officers (COs) so that they could begin to meet the critical need for trained oral health workers in these areas.

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