This past weekend I really enjoyed visiting two events held by our supporters – the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry annual conference in central London, and the Campbell Academy Masquerade Ball in Nottingham.
BACD members have been supporters for a few years now, donating several thousand pounds and a lot of goodwill to help us.
Colin Campbell and his team have also supported us for a long time, and have sponsored the training of several Clinical Officers. They talk about their clinic having a reach way beyond Nottingham and are proud of the communities they are helping through being a part of Bridge2Aid.
What links these two events is that they are both organised by groups who are very much at the more complex end of dentistry – implants, cosmetic dentistry, smile makeovers. These involve clinical procedures at a level of technical expertise that simply astound me.
So, how is it that these two groups end up working so closely with an organisation like ours that focusses entirely on making access to the simplest pain relief available. My view is there are two reasons – they understand, and they’re in a position to help. And so they do.
They understand because they have studied extensively, and witnessed first hand, the pain and anguish that untreated dental disease can cause. Back in dental school, and in some cases more recently, they have studied the impact of complications arising from untreated abscesses on people. Pain, bone breakdown, septicaemia, death.
They can help because they are in a fortunate position, which believe me, they have worked hard to achieve. They have the skills to help practically, and the financial resources to make an impact. Some even build in a charitable donation percentage to their business model. They want to give something back, and they do.
It’s inspiring for me that people should want to join with us in this way. People who use the positions they have attained in life as a means to make a difference for others.
For Bridge2Aid, this means making the very basics of what dentistry can provide to as many people as possible. Our goal is what the WHO calls a fundamental right for everyone – pain relief. We focus our efforts entirely on getting people onto first rung of oral health – that fundamental pain relief and the prevention of complications. Our commitment is to the rural poor – people who will otherwise face a lifetime of pain if we wait for the expansion of the healthcare system in traditional ways, or traditional forms of short term volunteering.
This approach of making a larger and long term difference takes time. During the first ten years of our existence we focused our efforts in two countries – Tanzania and Rwanda. Together with their governments we have pioneered a training approach which enables existing medical workers to safely treat over 90% of cases. We’re extending our impact and our aim is to leave both of these countries with their own sustainable capacity to train in the next few years.
This partnership between the clinicians in the UK working at one end of dentistry, and Bridge2Aid, working in developing countries to make the very basics available to everyone, is a fantastic picture of the British Dental Profession in action. My thanks to both the BACD and the Campbell Academy and Clinic for their friendship and support.