Did you know that health starts in your mouth and is the first step in the process of digestion? In other words, if you don’t have healthy dental hygiene, it can affect you overall health negatively.
Dental health is much more difficult if you are a child with special needs. Someone who doesn’t necessarily understand the process, or is highly sensitive to any sensations, and finding it impossible to sit still. To address this concern, a first-of-its-kind specialised paediatric unit was opened at Tygerburg Hospital in Cape Town, and is run by the University of the Western Cape (UWC).
The project, funded by the Rotary Club of Bellville with international donor support, brought together many passionate individuals and talents. The unit will shed light on the transformative power of cutting-edge technologies and international partnerships.
Vision for better dental health
Prof Verasamay Yengopol, the dean of the School of Dentistry at UWC, emphasised the significance of dental health, pointing out that it goes beyond maintaining a bright smile. Dental health profoundly influences physical well-being, mental health, and overall quality of life.
Yengapol highlighted the need to embrace new technologies and forge collaborations within the industry. He stressed the importance of investment in this endeavour.
The Rotary Club’s generous support was acknowledged, as it plays a pivotal role in setting up and sustaining the initiative. Shockingly, it was revealed that an alarming 80% of children in the Western Cape suffer from tooth decay, underscoring the urgency of this initiative. The need to train specialist paediatric dentistry professionals was addressed as a vital step towards rectifying this concerning statistic.
Prof Tyrone Pretorius, rector and vice chancellor of UWC, emphasised the historical importance of the initiative and its potential to shape the destiny of children in the country. He noted that this project carries the potential to transform their lives. He inspired attendees to “turn to each other rather than turn on each other”.
Collaboration is key
The Rotary Club of Bellville, represented by David Holtzhauzen and Dalene Swart, who form part of the 1.5 million-strong changemakers community. The dream of the dental initiative was sparked when a fellow club member brought their family for dental work.
They underlined that everything begins with a conversation, a dream, a mindset, and a will. The power of one person, one individual, to make a difference was highlighted, reinforcing that to change someone’s life, all it takes is to care.
Rotary Canada and other international entities also played a significant role in making this initiative possible. The project’s lead, Nicoline Potgieter of UWC, mentioned training international students, particularly master’s students, as part of the project’s broader vision to empower the next generation of dentists.
Various partnerships with service providers from supply to maintenance were unveiled. Asset management would be overseen by Cebo, with plans to launch this initiative in the Mitchells Plain area as well.
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