A group of three dental students from Plymouth University Peninsula School of Dentistry are to embark on an elective project in Peru this summer and they are using crowdfunding to help them get there to make a difference to local oral health care.
Fourth-year students Sarah Khalil, Sapna Patel and Amreeta Aytain will visit Arequipa in Peru with overseas elective experts Work the World.
Peru suffers from a lack of portable purified water, which means that many local people rely on sugary drinks for their liquid intake. As a consequence, incidences of dental disease are high and visits to the dentist are rare, usually only when the pain becomes unbearable.
While Peru has private dentists, treatments are expensive and public dentistry is limited, resulting in long waiting times for those unable to afford private dental fees. According to the World Health Organization there are 1.2 dentists for every 10,000 people in Peru compared with 5.2 per 10,000 in the UK.
The students will be working in two hospitals: one is the oldest hospital in Peru, the other one of the largest. Both will offer the students useful experience in busy hospital departments, looking at a range of cases including extractions, scalings, fillings and maxillo-facial surgery.
Professor Elizabeth Kay, Foundation Dean for the Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth University and trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation commented: "Electives are an effective way for our students to work in dental health care in other parts of the world, to apply what they have learned here to the benefit of patients and colleagues in other countries, and to bring home with them a new layer of experience which develops them as individuals and adds to their sense of professionalism. I wish Sarah, Sapna and Amreeta well for their trip to Peru."
As part of their preparations of the trip the students are learning Spanish.
Sarah, Sapna and Amreeta are hoping to fund their trip via Crowdfunder, an exciting and innovative way to raise money for the project.
They need £3010 each to pay for their trip, and individuals can help to raise that amount by pledging sums via their Crowdfunder webpage.
Sarah said of their project: "Peru is an area of the world where, in most instances, resources are directed at basic medical care and even that can be limited.
"Oral health tends to be lower on the list of priorities, both for patients and the health system, so we can expect to see and treat people whose dental disease is advanced. As a result we will get the opportunity to observe, diagnose and treat oral conditions which are rare in the UK, while at the same time making a real difference to the oral health of the patients we will see.
We are really looking forward to our trip, and we hope that people will help us make difference to oral health in Peru by supporting our project via Crowdfunder."