Dentists cut teeth on overseas mission in remote PNG

YOU might only be waiting a couple of weeks to see a dentist in Gladstone, but deep in the remote villages of Papua New Guinea, most people never see a dentist their whole life.

In a nation of 6.25 million there are only around 32 dentists who mostly service the ex-patriot population.

The YWAM Australia and PNG Medical Ship aims to bring hope to people all over PNG who don't have access to vital health services.

Two Gladstone dentists were on board Townsville's YWAM Medical Ship's third voyage to the gulf province earlier this year.

It was a life-changing experience for Nirooban Sivarajah and Zaid Wall who on average treated four times the number of patients they treat in Gladstone on a daily basis.

"It was one of the most insane experiences I've ever had," Mr Sivarajah said.

"PNG is currently classified as one of the most dangerous places in the world."

With no common language across the country Mr Wall said he felt like an alien approaching the remote villages.

"It was crazy, something I've never experienced."

All the treatments are performed on a boat with about 50 medical professionals who work nonstop.

Many villagers would undertake long and dangerous canoe voyages to get treatment the YWAM medical ship.

"It puts it all into perspective," Mr Wall said.


Fast facts

  • The YWAM medical ship first set sail in 1991. Over the last 20 years they have provided over 50,000 dental procedures for 37,000 people.
  • As well as providing essential medical care, YMAN has partnered with companies like 1300 SMILES, Australian based dental provider to train and up skill villagers to perform basic dentistry work.


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