VDA collaborates to implement oral health projects in Vanuatu

22 July 2014
FDI member the Vanuatu Dental Association is collaborating in the implementation of key oral health projects undertaken in Vanuatu, devised and executed by the University of Sydney, Australia.

'Shining Smiles on Efate Island' seeks to promote oral health among school children between the ages of five and ten on Efate Island, Vanuatu.

Its aim is to increase the awareness and understanding of the importance of a healthy diet and good oral hygiene through a programme that will not only be remembered, but also continuously applied into the daily lives of the target group.

Anticipated results include improved oral health, greater awareness, motivation and education of oral health and a better understanding of a healthy diet and its importance to the oral cavity.  They also include a thorough understanding of the dental needs on Efate Island and a sound awareness among teachers and students of the identifying signs and symptoms that require the attention of a dental practitioner.

Rural communities
More than 80% of people in Vanuatu live in rural communities spread over 85 separate islands, with six dentists for a population of approximately 200,000 people (i.e. a ratio of 1: 34,000). The country's health sector faces critical shortages of human resources and a workforce unevenly distributed across provinces or population location, with a majority of dentists or health care workers residing and practicing in urban areas.

Thus, with limited access to resources and education, isolation due to insufficient roads and variety of other problems, there is a lack of knowledge, a deterioration of dental health and higher rates of caries and periodontal disease as well as a lack of community education about the services available, which are in any case overloaded.

'Shining Smiles on Efate Island' (full project description)

Happy baby smiles
A second project ‘Happy baby smiles of the South Pacific’, currently at definition stage, is set to empower expecting, new, and seasoned mothers to manage and/or prevent dental related issues in the future, not only for their children but for themselves.

It aims to instil effective oral hygiene habits and educate mothers to make correct oral hygiene and dietary choices and thus, through their own healthy behaviour, provide a positive role model for their children.

‘Happy baby smiles of the South Pacific’ (full project definition)

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