By Christophe Courjon. This article originally appeared in Rotary Mag, the French regional magazine.
Disease prevention and treatment is one of Rotary International’s areas of focus, but dental hygiene, which plays an important role in the well-being of the individual, is sometimes forgotten. This is the reason why Rotary clubs take action all over the world to provide information and care to all.
Many ailments, far beyond the digestive system, are caused by poor dental hygiene. They include painful tendonitis, worsening heart problems, and diabetes. Prevention is the first step to take, because it is “better to be safe than sorry.”
Oral hygiene awareness
An oral hygiene awareness campaign has recently been carried out by the Rotary Club of Casablanca Atlantic for students of the Aoulad Cheikh school in Dar Bouazza, Morocco. Initiated in partnership with the Association marocaine de prévention bucco-dentaire (Moroccan Oral Prevention Association), this campaign has reached a thousand children. The children attended classes given by practitioners and now understand the importance of regular and proper toothbrushing. On this occasion, some students received emergency care. Speaking on a Moroccan television channel, Dounia Oudghiri, president of the Rotary Club of Casablanca Atlantic, claimed that children had avoided cavities. “This is an important project that guarantees long-term dignity; we are planning other campaigns,” said Oudghiri.
In France, Rotarians are addressing the same issue, such as the Rotary Club of Camembert which helps first-graders at a school in Normandy learn about oral hygiene. A dental surgeon and her assistant explain to the children the importance of taking care of their teeth. According to the practitioner, “It is very useful in view of the oral health of some children who need care.” The Rotarians give each child a cup with a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste.
Prevention is not only for children, but also for underprivileged adults; 160 kits including toothbrushes and toothpaste are offered by the Rotary club of Narbonne to people without housing. Prevention is only a first step, and providing care is another area in which Rotary members are involved.
Robert-Michel Nétus is a stomatologist and a member of the Rotary Club of Delmas Centre in Haiti. He volunteers to provide dental care in areas that lack health facilities. He drives to meet patients in need, driving on uneven roads, often through areas with criminal activity. Supported by his club, which provides him with gas, medicine, materials, and supplies, Robert-Michel says, “My real passion is to give my patients their smile back through dental care.” This is a passion shared by many French dental students who travel throughout the world to care for under resourced populations on a voluntary basis. To support such initiatives, the Rotary Club of Tonneins in southwest France organizes a local craft beer show in which a dozen brewers showcase their production. The project proceeds fund students from the dental school of Bordeaux who will travel to Madagascar to put their training into practice under the supervision of seasoned professionals. But goodwill is not enough if there is insufficient equipment; so, Rotary members take action to help practitioners work in the best possible conditions.
In Senegal, the Rotary Club of Dakar Millennium offered a new dental chair to the Mame Louise Gomis health facility during a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Gorée.
This equipment now provides the island population with the opportunity to receive treatment locally. This care is made possible by dentists who come from the mainland three times a week. The Mayor applauded the club saying, “This gesture is of high philanthropic significance from the Rotary Club of Dakar Millennium which has carried out other projects benefiting Gorée.” At the other end of the African continent, the Rotary Club of Djibouti gave some equipment to the hospital of Tadjourah. The dental ward at this facility has been fully reequipped by Rotary members. The entire Republic of Djibouti is plagued by the overconsumption of khat which, in addition to sweetened drinks, causes serious dental problems. This donation now allows patients to be treated without having to cross the Gulf to go to Djibouti.
Rotarian dentists are involved in many activities related to their profession. They promote their profession not only through humanitarian projects, but also during career days with the goal of providing information to high school students. They know how to offer their skills and share their passion. They are professionals who are committed to the spirit of service, the spirit of Rotary.
Did you know? 645 dentists subscribe to Rotary Mag, the French regional magazine. The dental profession is one of the most represented in Rotary, with half of French-speaking clubs having at least one dental surgeon among their members.