Camy Thomas Papua New Guinea

The Enga Province in P.N.G.’s Western highlands, is home to some of the country’s most recently discovered people groups. Its terrain is mountainous and rugged, and much of the province is yet to be reached by serviceable road networks. Its 350,000 people, comprising the largest single language group in the country, live mostly in rural locations, scattered in small hamlets often carved out of thick forest on isolated hilltops. My Dental Assistant and I were excited to unpack the dental materials and equipment that seemed so thoughtfully and strategically arranged in the box and we were most eager to work the chair into position.

We’d used plastic chairs secured with a cushion made of an unpacked cotton roll covered in a plastic sheet and secured to the chair with strings as headrest for patients. In another place where there were no plastic chairs in that village and the health aid-post was a redundant dilapidate shelter which was completely unusable, as the health worker had died years ago, and the replacement workman had never arrived.

We were left with a Bamboo and Palm leaf structure in the marketplace cushioned by a plastic bag filled with second hand clothes that was brought by one of the nurses to give away at the village. 




But the place that presented itself with a unique challenge was a village called Yambaitok, which is about a 20-minute flight from the Base hospital. There was a hand carved wooden stool that the villagers could offer, and since it was a low stool, we propped it over some flat wooden logs lying around and had the bark of a tree as backrest and secured a cushion made of gauze sheets wrapped in a plastic sheet.

The irony was taking this new Dentaid chair to this very place in Yambaitok for the first time this year in February 2022! I couldn’t stop praising God as we set up the chair under the market welcome gate made of Palm leaf and grass roof. After The clinic, Dental education and Brushing activity for that day, the instruments used were sterilized in the Pressure cooker to sterilize the instruments used for that day and be ready for day 2 of the camp. We were very grateful for the timer that helped us keep time and the oven-gloves which seemed like a luxury to have in a place like that. The Dentaid box is thoughtfully and comprehensibly put together and is a blessing to the patient and dental team. On behalf of our team here at Kompiam District hospital, I’d like to thank the Dentaid UK team and MAF for partnering with us and making it possible to bring health care to some of the most isolated populations in our world.

Camy Thomas – Dentist