This year Dr Ross Napoli had the extraordinary opportunity to work with the long established Australian Vietnam Volunteers Resource Group (AVVRG) in the Dental care team in the Long Tan region of the BaRia – Vung Tau Province. The AVVRG Dental Clinic at Long Tan is periodically visited by Australian dentists able to assist locals with dental care. The provision of dental care and dental hygiene education is a low priority matter in Vietnam. The ready availability of sugary sweets in Vietnam results in a very high rate of dental caries in children, The Dental Care Team are currently pursuing an oral health care program in the region in conjunction with the local Department of Health. Practicing Dentists are always welcomed to support this ongoing project and we were granted the opportunity to assist.
Some portable dental equipment is available which have enabled the teams to travel to the children in the schools surrounding Long Tan.
Contrary to what we may think about the modernisation of Vietnam, the country still has many problems with severe poverty and lack of basic healthcare. I have treated many disadvantaged children in other countries but I have never seen the ravages of war on a population of people who are some of the kindest and friendliest on earth.
The patients we saw were not only underprivileged, many of them disabled (some severely) and a large proportion of them blind. There is very little english spoken in these parts and we were kindly assisted by 2 local medicos (Drs Qua and Twee) whom also donated their time and acted as our translators, assistants and guides.
Last but not least, we paid our respects to the fallen in the Region and in particular, the Australian soldiers who notably lost their lives in Long Tan. It was a both a humbling experience and a pleasure to be of assistance to the lovely people of Vietnam.
My sincere thanks to Dr Alan Fassina for his assistance in Vietnam whom without this trip would not have been possible, and those who donated supplies for the trip including my colleagues at PDC, Gunz dental, 3M, GC.
Dr Ross Napoli
Our Team in Vung Tau, Drs Ross Napoli, Alan Fassina, Twee and Qua
Paying our respects at the Cross of Long Tan at the Long Tan Battle site.