Fostering Partnerships to Improve Oral Health

Our eyes may be the windows to our souls, but our mouths are a pretty good indicator of our overall health status.

Oral disease is a significant health problem that can affect an individual’s ability to eat, drink, speak, and work or attend school. Needless to say, these symptoms have both physical and psycho-social effects. In addition, some oral health conditions are indicative of the presence of an underlying noncommunicable or infectious disease. Access to oral health care is essential to protecting the health and promoting the well-being of individuals and communities across the globe.

This is why HVO partners with the American Dental Association Foundation (ADAF) and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) to increase the quality and availability of oral health care in resource-scarce countries. Volunteers in our oral health program teach dental and oral surgery students, and mentor faculty and providers in Cambodia, Haiti, Laos, Nepal, Peru and Tanzania.

This service has a substantial impact on trainees and volunteers alike. As Dashrath Kafle, BDS, MDS, an associate professor at HVO’s collaborating institution Dhulikhel Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal and a 2018 HVO Golden Apple Award recipient wrote in 2015:

“We started [the] HVO project last year only. So far this has been an amazing and incredible experience for [the] Dental School of Dhulikhel Hospital. The HVO volunteers are extremely helpful and goal-oriented. My staff are more motivated to work as a team… My colleagues and staff practice evidence-based dentistry. Staff get refreshed when they get [the] opportunity to hear from volunteers.”

After returning from an assignment at the same project in April 2018, HVO volunteer and leader Greg Czarnecki, DDS, reflected:

“Being allowed to enter a culture and be a participant as a health care provider is a great privilege that is confirmed every time I complete an assignment. What a wonderful opportunity to share information and observe how dentistry is practiced in other parts of the world.”

HVO is proud to partner with ADAF and AAOMS to facilitate collaboration between dedicated providers like Drs. Kafle and Czarnecki — two individuals connected by their shared passion for improving the global quality and availability of oral health care.

If you are attending the AAOMS Annual Meeting October 8-13, keep an eye out for HVO staff in the AAOMS Membership pavilion in the exhibit hall. We will be waiting to answer questions and help you start your global volunteering journey. If you’re attending the ADA Annual meeting in Honolulu, check-out the course “Volunteer Internationally: Build Sustainable Oral Health Programs” on Sunday, October 21 from 7:30-10:00 am.

You can also start that journey today by completing our volunteer application!

Not a health care provider? You can still support our work in oral health and other program areas by making a gift to HVO.

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