Expanding Summer Free Clinic Service in Remote Areas

2021-12-03

Yang Ming’s Oral Hygiene and Medical Service Corps spend the entire summer vacations every year to provide free oral consultations and health education for children in areas with insufficient dentist resources

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of screening for oral cancer in Taiwan is steadily decreasing. In response, the Oral Hygiene and Medical Service Corps of the Department of Dentistry at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University has expanded the scope of its free summertime clinic service in remote areas. In addition to the long-implemented oral hygiene inspection and education activities, the Corps is now collaborating with iStat Biomedical Co., Ltd., using the company’s oral cancer detection reagent to perform screening in eight remote townships in Hualien as a part of the University’s social responsibility initiative.

According to the June 2020 cancer screening data published by the Health Promotion Administration, cancer screening rates were 15% lower than those in June 2019. This reduction is most likely attributable to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, as Taiwan’s pandemic prevention efforts improved, the number of individuals receiving screening for colon, breast, and cervical cancer in July 2020 increased by 11,000 compared with the number corresponding to July 2019. Nevertheless, because of public concern regarding the risk of COVID-19 infection, the rate of oral cancer screening decreased by 10%.

The Yang Ming Oral Hygiene and Medical Service Corps was established 44 years ago. Its members comprise of freshmen to junior students from the University’s Department of Dentistry, as well as alumni. The Corps spends five to six days during the summer break each year to provide free dental services in remote, resource-poor areas. This year, these services, comprising oral hygiene education, oral mucosa inspection, oral function assessment, and dental care, were provided in remote areas of Hualien from August 31 to September 5.

To reverse the trend of decline in oral cancer screening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, address problems caused by population aging, and realize the University’s Social Responsibility plan (USR), a team led by Professor Ming-Chin Wang and Dr. Ching-Chih Chang, the Corps visited seven elementary schools: Hong Ye Elementary School, Silin Elementary School, Mingli Elementary School, and Mayuan Elementary School in Wanrung Township; Rueibei Elementary School in Ruisui Township; Lishan Elementary School in Zhuoxi Township; and Songpu Elementary School in Yuli Township. The Corps held free oral hygiene education workshops and provided dental services (e.g., oral checkups and fluoride treatment) to local children. Moreover, free fluoride toothpaste and toothbrushes provided by GlaxoSmithKline PLC were distributed, and plans for follow-up dental services provided in collaboration with the Taiwan Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and Hualien Dental Association were made.

Also in response to the reduction in oral cancer screening due to the impact of COVID-19 and the aging society in Taiwan and the implementation of the University Social Responsibility (USR) program, this year, the director of the Department of Dentistry Yang Cheng-Chieh and Assistant Professor Wang Ding-Han were specially appointed to conduct an oral mucosal examination, oral function assessment and oral cavity in 8 locations in Ruiliang Village, Wuhe Village, Ruibei Village, Ruisui Village, Fuyuan Village, Fumin Village, Fuxing Village and Ruibei Village in Ruisui Township, Hualien County Health education.

Upholding the motto of “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” the Yang Ming Oral Hygiene and Medical Service Corps promotes oral cancer screening and discourages substance abuse (mainly tobacco, alcohol, and betel nut use) to instill local residents with oral health knowledge, thereby helping them maintain their oral and systemic health.

Link: https://enews.ym.edu.tw/w/ymnews426/focus_20090817502630220

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