The Rotary Club of Emory-Clifton (RCEC) conducted a successful Dental Mission in Bataraza National High School, Bataraza, Palawan, Philippines on July 15-16, 2019 for 2019-2020 Rotary year. RCEC chose to conduct a dental mission in light of a public health problem that is very common in the country -- 92% of Filipinos have dental issues according to the Department of Health in the Philippines.
The Dental Mission was spearheaded by Pia Dina Valeriano, Past-President and Co-Founder of Rotary Club of Emory-Clifton. Pia’s supporting cast came from her family of dentists -- her mother, Dr. Teresita Ortega dela Cruz, brother, Dr. David O. Dela Cruz and niece, Dr. Jamara Kyla dela Cruz. The dela Cruz family happily volunteered to assist the community; bringing the quality of over 60 years of dental heritage to the citizens of Bataraza.
During the first day of the dental mission, 2000 students, teachers and administrators gathered to listen to team in their school. To start things off Pia gave the audience some background information about the RCEC. She also recounted the trivial coincidences that in full fruition ended up being the reason why the mission was possible. Finally, Pia humored the audience with the numerous hows and whys they can and should properly care for their teeth. This was followed by Dr. David dela Cruz as he further emphasized proper brushing and demonstrated how to properly care for their teeth. After the demonstration of dental care, Pia and her volunteers distributed dental kits to everybody. Toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride were distributed, along with an apple. We believe that an apple a day keeps the dentist away!
Dentists started to see patients one by one at a makeshift clinic in the school. There were more than 99 patients (students, faculty and admins) handled by each of the 3 dentists. Every patient with a seemingly more daunting case than the last; proving to be a true test of endurance and skill. According to the dentists, most of the teeth extracted were in a condition that could not be kept nor restored with fillings.
Even Pia’s 86 year old mother Teresita (supposedly just an observer) could not stand idly by as all the patients piled up by the doorway. She went straight to work and seemingly did not miss a beat.
All dental procedures went well with a few squeals from scared patients and an electricity outage that continued even after the sun had already set. Despite all that the program continued using flashlights. The last patient clocked-out at 8:25pm.The project was gratifying as all volunteers felt that their service was desperately needed. Pia interviewed some of the students and they have indicated that they were experiencing toothaches for months on end. The fact that most of the local health centers did not accept their difficult cases was deeply alarming. On the other hand Tooth extraction for the average private dental practitioner costs 800php in Palawan which is 273% of daily minimum wage.
|Bataraza High School administration and Math, Arts, PE, and Health (MAPEH) teachers handled the coordination and preparation of the make-shift clinic. Family Dental Clinic provided the 3 dentists and two assistants. Villa de Sierra Vista provided additional volunteers purchasing, packing and distributing dental kits to children of BHS. The following organizations and individuals sponsored the mission by donating to the project. Villa de Sierra Vista ($1000), Rotary Club of Emory Clifton ($1000), Pinay Boutique ($750), Makabayan Georgia, Inc. ($300), Lorri Christopher ($150), Rotary Club of Puerto Princesa ($100), Philippine Dental Association, Palawan Chapter ($100), Meg Bhuiyan ($100), and Joselyn Millan ($100)|