Chiswick Dental Team To Make Visit To Burma

Help needed in remote areas where children face dental decay from sugar cane diet


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Chiswick dentist Dr. Mike Clarke and two members of his dental practice team will travel to Burma this October to help bring dental care to one of the most remote areas of the country.

Dr. Mike Clarke

Mike, who practices in the Chiswick Health Centre and in Burlington Road, will make a two-week visit to the country with nurses Patty Sumpton and Khaing Hla Hla. Many children in the area are in daily dental pain from decay as their diet relies greatly on sugar cane from the fields.

Mike was inspired by the example of a colleague and friend Dr. Henrik Overgaard-Neilson and his wife Sharon Bierer, who travelled to Burma in the spring of 2012 as tourists and visited lake Inle, a remote area in the northeast of the country with no nearby city.

"They sadly saw first-hand the terrible dental condition of the population, in particular the children, many of whom are orphans and live in poverty. Burma is recognised as one of the poorest countries in the whole world and so dental care is virtually non existent.

"In the villages around lake Inle, there  is a population of approximately 200,000 but no dentist to help treat the children in particular, many of whom live in daily pain from their badly decayed teeth. Their diet relies greatly on sugar cane from the fields, as they have no money to buy food, and toothbrushes are virtually unknown."

Practice nurse Patty Sumpton

Henrik and Sharon decided to try to do something to make a difference. When they returned to the UK, they set up the charity Burmadent, and developed plans to revisit the area to provide dentistry to the poor around lake Inle. The first volunteering trip was November 2012. Over a period of 2 weeks, about 400 children were seen and approximately 1500 teeth had to be removed. In addition, education for the children was started, and fluoride varnish was applied to the teeth where possible, to try to prevent further disease. Treatment was carried out on table tops, as no dental surgery had been built.

Last January Henrik gave a presentation on the work and invited other senior dentists to help in some way. Mike decided immediately that he would like to volunteer to visit Inle and carry on with the work started by Burmadent. Two of the practice nurses Patty and Khaing both immediately volunteered to come along too. The fact that Khaing is Burmese will be a great help as she will be able to translate and this will help them to treat the patients much more efficiently. 

Khaing (Khai Hla Hla) -practice nurse

Burmadent is a new charity, so all costs including travel and accommodation expenses have to be paid by each volunteer. While Mike is happy to donate his professional time for the trip, the team is now actively fundraising to help with the costs.

"If we are fortunate enough to raise enough money to cover these costs, any additional funds will be used to purchase essential dental materials such as anaesthetics and needles. We need to take our own materials as it is very difficult to set up a reliable supply chain in Burma and we need to be sure we have all we need to treat the patients."

Mike added that he and his staff had been really moved by the generosity of their patients who have either given money by cheque or cash directly at reception, or have been donating via their fundraising page .

"I am collating all the email addresses of the donors, and it is my intention to send a blog to everybody during the trip, so that they can be made aware that their generosity has actually made a difference that day, " he says.

Mike, Patty and Khaing will leave London on 31st October, returning on 16th November 2013.

They will also be joined by Dr. Carla Jones from Cambridgeshire and it is understood that another UK dentist has volunteered to travel over in December.

July 18, 2013

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