A refurbished mobile dental clinic has been delivered to the Cherkassy region of Ukraine as two Swindon dentists renew their efforts to provide care to people who never get treatment.
Last year Brendon Ball from the Freshbrook Dental Practice and orthodontist Richard Swift were given a surplus Wiltshire Health Authority mobile dental surgery which they have converted to left hand drive.
With their wives Natasha and Linda they set up the charity Smile Menders to help where dental care is poor. On 1 June they departed for another mercy mission to Ukraine with a send off by the Mayor of Swindon Ray Fisher.
Since the first visit in 1999 Brendon and Richard have supplied quantities of dental equipment to the children?s hospital in Cherkassy city and in 2002 towed a converted school?s dental caravan across Europe.
The mobile surgery will extend services further afield said Brendon. “Cherkassy region is the size of Wales and outside the city and larger towns, dental care is very limited. The caravan allowed local dentists to provide treatment in the villages. We?re very thankful to the Wiltshire Health Authority for passing on the mobile unit. It will allow the dentists to get to even more remote areas.”
When Brendon first went to Ukraine he discovered treatment in the city dental hospital was given without pain killers and found almost no dental health advice. After many visits to supply materials and provide training to local dentists, Brendon says a difference is being made. “Our contact with senior dental staff and government people has eased access. And there is dramatic change following the ?Orange Revolution? last year. But, what you see of Ukraine on the Eurovision song contest is very different to the countryside. There is still hundreds of years of bureaucracy, petty bribery and a culture of suspicion from Soviet days to contend with.”
On this trip Smile Menders will be accessing the needs in a prison hospital for women. “When you get a request from the prison service, you know there is change afoot,” said Brendon. “There are many women so disfigured from domestic violence that they cannot be reintegrated into society. Perhaps we can assist in the future.”
Find the story about the Smile Menders trip to deliver the dental caravan in the swindonlink archives for July 2002.