Taking It to the Street
The Faculty of Dentistry's programme has complemented the work of Project Concern Hong Kong by focusing on prevention to benefit people from low-income backgrounds.
A team from the Faculty of Dentistry has been travelling to Hong Kong districts that have significant populations of people from low-income backgrounds to deliver oral health education and free dental checks.
Many of the people in those areas cannot afford a visit to the dentist and are suffering from cavities, gum disease and other oral health problems.
The dentistry team, led by Professor Chun-hung Chu, Dr Mike Yiu-yan Leung, Dr Dominic King-lun Ho and Dr Duangporn Duangthip, visited seven districts in 2015-16 with more than 20 supporters including dental students, research assistants, volunteer dentists and dental staff of their community partner, Project Concern Hong Kong.
Project Concern Hong Kong is a non-profit social service organisation that delivers dental and medical services to those in need after disease has already set in, and the Faculty's programme has complemented that work by focusing on prevention.
"Our epidemiology studies have shown that in disadvantaged communities, people don't tend to have regular dental checks and they don't practice prevention, so they are at risk of disease," Professor Chu said.
A few years ago he started providing empowerment training and continuous professional development to Project Concern's dentists and nurses, with a particular focus on how to most effectively deliver dental services from a mobile van (the group has three vans). That led to the KE Fund-backed project to help the group deliver prevention programmes.
The Faculty's team and Project Concern have paid one-day drop-in visits to each of the seven districts, providing free oral health checks to about 200 patients at each place and oral health education to many more who visited their booth. Follow-up emergency care was provided to relieve pain in Project Concern's van. Patients needing more treatment were provided with notes to present to a dentist.
The Faculty team also helped Project Concern to apply for funding from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trustto cover the cost of this follow-up treatment.
"We have received good feedback from the patients and also from District Councillors in the places we visited. Now these stakeholders understand the importance of oral health," Professor Chu said.
The KE project is continuing in 2016-17 with visits to four more districts, and hoping to do another four next year. "Hopefully we will be able to visit every district, depending on resources," he added.
Dr Dominic K.L. Ho and his team members, Professor Chun-hung Chu, Dr Mike Y.Y. Leung and Dr Duangporn Duangthip, received the Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Award 2016 of the Faculty of Dentistry for the project 'Empowering a Non-governmental Non-profit Organisation to Deliver Primary Oral Care to Hong Kong Citizens'.