Situated in the heart of Asia, Myanmar (Burma) is a developing country. The family habits remain unchanged from past generations and the lack of information means that oral hygiene has little value for the people living there. The majority of the population are poor, and do not have enough money for proper dental care, therefore when they can no longer bare the pain, they simply go to the « tooth puller ». Many people have health problems from the lack of proper dental care and often they begin to loose their teeth already from the age of 18 because of decay or periodontal disease!
Founded in 2007 by Mrs Aygol Vermot Babaki (a Swiss dental hygienist) and her husband Mr Steeve Vermot, the Thannaka Association has as a mission to provide the following to the children and to the disadvantaged people of Myanmar :
- Dental health education for teachers in the school system, for students and for orphan children
- The distribution of free toothbrushes and toothpastes to the needy
- The provision of necessary equipment and materials for dental care
- Provision of free dental care, using local dentists and foreign volunteer dentists/dental hygienists, for disadvantaged people, the priority being given to the children
Our project began in Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School-Orphenage (5500 students + 2000 orphan children) in Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar.
From 2008 to 2014 we purchased 2 dental units, an autoclave, a water pump, generators, compressors, supplies, an ultrasonic scaler, x-ray material, equipment for basic dental treatments and hygiene…and a few thousand toothbrushes.
We trained and hired a dental assistant to not only assist the dentists but also to help dental hygienists in teaching oral hygiene and to know how to take care of all our equipment.
Every year, we send volunteer dentists and dental hygienists from Switzerland to treat the children in this school free of charge.
Three local dentists give their time twice a week in our dental clinic treating children and poor people from around the school free of charge. Every year, dental students from Mandalay practice and expand their knowledge in our dental clinic.
Flyers presenting our association: placed in waiting rooms, distributed to professionals during the congresses, among friends and acquaintances,..
Articles in local newspapers or reviews for dentist / dental hygienist
Conferences given to service clubs (Soroptimists, Round Table, International Bazar of Luxembourg, etc.)
Our desire is to soon organize a charity event-dinner.
All the work involved, that is the acquisition of funds, the search and purchase of materials, the search for necessary volunteers and the administrative work for the association is done uniquely by Mrs Aygol Vermot Babaki and Mr Steeve Vermot alongside their perspective jobs and family life. It is completely voluntary; they give of themselves, their time, their energy with this burning desire to make a difference in the lives and health of the people in Myanmar.
In 2007, Mrs & M Vermot went for the 1st time in Myanmar. They did dental examinations on 500 children which confirmed the terrible state of the dental health there. More than 80 % of those children were suffering from decay, gum disease, and dental infections, simply because of bad dental hygiene. –Upon comparison with the latest statistics of the World Health Organization, they realized that the dental situation had not changed since 1993.-
For an entire month they went into classes to explain the importance of taking care of one’s teeth. They projected a PowerPoint presentation and distributed a lot of toothbrushes to give brushing instructions. They spoke about diet and general health. They also put posters about dental prevention in the classrooms, library, kitchen, orphanage... They gave the same lesson to the teachers so that they, in turn, could continue giving regular dental education. All the material used was left in the school.
Voluntarily, starting from nothing, we relentlessly worked to find the funds to buy all the necessary equipment. Today every child from this school has his own toothbrush. The teachers speak about dental education. The children have free treatment. Every year dentists and dental hygienists volunteer to continue in the work, refreshing the knowledge and encouraging the teachers who give the lessons in dental education, providing dental care free of charge to the children in this school. They even teach local dentists Swiss dental technology.
We need to complete and renew our dental material, to pay the dental assistant and the local dentists their salaries, to write articles about our association in reviews, in short, we ceaselessly have to go in search of funds in order to reach our goals. And we hope, one day, we will play a major role in improving the dental health in the whole country and our ultimate goal is to be able to open a dental hygienist school in Myanmar.