Thai Association of Orthodontists' mobile orthodontic unit inspires Vietnamese orthodontists, dentists
Vietnamese doctors hope to establish a similar service to treat cleft lip and palate patients
On a monthly basis, members of the Thai Association of Orthodontists (ThaAO) volunteer their time to provide free orthodontic treatment to cleft lip and palate patients at the Maharaj Hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), a province in northeastern Thailand. The ThaAO has sponsored this mobile orthodontic unit since November 2010, and this effort has now inspired Vietnamese orthodontists and dentists to provide a similar service. Recently, Vietnamese orthodontists and dentists traveled with the ThaAO's mobile orthodontic unit to gain more information about the program.
Vietnamese doctors learned of the ThaAO's mobile orthodontic unit in November 2013 during the 8th Biennial World Cleft Lip and Palate Congress in Hanoi, Vietnam. Dr. Somchai Satravaha, president of the ThaAO's mobile orthodontic unit, delivered a lecture on the treatment of cleft lip and palate patients and discussed the ThaAO's mobile orthodontic unit with attendees.
"I was moved by her (Dr. Satravaha's) lecture, and she invited us to join her mobile orthodontic unit," said Dr. Tho Tran of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He is one of the individuals striving to establish a mobile orthodontic unit that would travel to rural areas in Vietnam.
"The incidence of cleft lip and palate in Vietnam varies from 1:700 or 1:1,000, depending on the survey," Dr. Tran said. "At the moment, most CLP patients just receive surgical repair and no orthodontic treatment or speech therapy. Orthodontics is in a developing stage in Vietnam, and, at present, there is no three-year resident orthodontic program in Vietnam. Those dentists with orthodontic training get short orthodontic courses, and most of them practice in the big cities. Therefore, in the rural areas, there is no access to orthodontic treatment for CLP patients or even for normal orthodontic patients. Hence, there is a tremendous need for a mobile orthodontic unit in Vietnam."
Twenty-four orthodontists and dentists from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi traveled with the ThaAO volunteers to the Maharaj Hospital in July.
"The trip to Maharaj Hospital in Korat impressed us very much," said Dr. Tran, who helped make arrangements for the trip. "We appreciated the well-organized endeavors that our Thai colleagues have been doing for their CLP patients. They have set up treatment protocols that our group in Vietnam will try to adopt and adapt for our treatment. The way they cared for their patients and for us, their guests, was very nice.
"Not only did they show us the treatment protocols but also shared with us how to connect with other resources to realize the project because this project needs an interdisciplinary approach among health-care professionals and charitable organizations. Dr. Somchai Satravaha arranged a meeting for us with Thai Red Cross Society leaders to learn how they manage to connect together to help these patients."
Dr. Tran said that the group aims to set up a mobile orthodontic unit for comprehensive orthodontic care for about 50 patients at first. "Many things have been done to bring this project into being. We are working with all relevant parties to make it a reality. We hope our work in patient care will start by the end of this year. We highly appreciate the support from the Thai Association of Orthodontists and Dr. Somchai Satravaha."
|Vietnamese orthodontists and dentists received certificates for assisting with the Thai Association of Orthodontists' mobile orthodontic unit in July 2014. From left, Dr. Tho Tran, head of the volunteers from Vietnam, receives his certificate from Dr. Somchai Satravaha, the president of the mobile orthodontic unit. Dr. Pinai Nirunrungrueng, director of the Maharaj Hospital's Cleft Center, looks on.|