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Fighting the good fight against tooth decay

villagebuzz, Dental Pearls

Karuna Khatri, dental camp co-ordinator Bishnu Shrestha and Pascale Pocock at their hotel in Kathmandu before setting out on their trip.

Here at Village  Buzz we've been reporting on our community for a long time but are still constantly amazed at the interesting and valuable things that our people find to get up to.

We came across a case recently when we heard that Winsor local Pascale Pocock, a dental assistant, had just returned from Nepal. She and her employer Dr. Karuna Khatri had been on a trip to remote areas in the country to provide urgently-needed dental treatment to the villagers there.

Karuna, the owner of the Dental Pearls dental practice in Brisbane, has been traveling to underprivileged areas for the last 10 or 11 years to provide dental services to people who would otherwise have to live with the pain of a toothache.

villagebuzz

Karuna Khatri and Pascale Pocock hard at work on a Nepalese patient.

She initially worked in India but for the last three years has spent two weeks in Nepal every year. She was accompanied by her assistant Pascale for the first time last year and the intrepid pair repeated went again in September this year.

The trips are organized by the Rotary World Community Service in Sydney and are facilitated by a Nepalese NGO which provides transport, equipment, and a local dentist to accompany them. The NGO prepares the ground by visiting the area and negotiating with village heads to obtain permission to hold clinics in local schools or sheds.

Karuna and Pascale flew into Kathmandu on their recent trip where they were teamed up with Nepalese dentist Biplop Adhikari and set out for their first clinic at a remote village. Nepal is a mountainous country and Karuna, in a masterpiece of understatement, described the roads they encountered as 'interesting'.

village buzz

Pascale Pocock gives village school children dental hygiene hints.

On arrival at a scheduled stop, the dentists set up their portable equipment and began treating patients – some of whom had walked for two days from their home villages to attend the clinic. The two dentists routinely treated up to 80 patients a day and many of these would have a number of teeth needing filling or extraction.

A Western diet and sugary drinks, in particular, have done the Nepalese no favours, said Karuna, which means their teeth are often in an appalling condition exacerbated by the fact that many have never brushed their teeth.

For this reason, education on dental hygiene is very important with patients in the queue waiting for treatment being shown videos on how to care for their teeth. Some toothbrushes were handed out along the way but Karuna and Pascale were severely limited by the amount of equipment and other gear they could carry with them.

village buzz

A village school teacher assists Pascale Pocock in providing dental hygiene hints to the children.

Karuna reflects that she has been very fortunate in her own life and that her voluntary trips over the last 11 years were a way for her to pay back and assist people less fortunate. The satisfaction of going out and helping people to live pain-free lives is huge for her and enhanced by the welcoming people and the beautiful scenery of the country.

The trips are such an overwhelmingly positive experience that one tends to get hooked, she says, so there seems to be little doubt that she and Pascale will be back in Nepal next year fighting the good fight against tooth decay.

villagebuzz

Karuna Khatri hands over a curing light for fillings to be used by other dentists in the region.

Donations to Rotary to support the work in Nepal can be claimed as tax deductions and made at:https://donations.rawcs.com.au/Default.aspx?ProjectID=214

Thanks to Allan Jackson for another great story!

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