Residents in the Solomon Islands will be smiling a little wider and brighter after a Rotary volunteer dental team led from Ballarat built eight new dental clinics and a sterilising room in its capital Honiara.
After the original dental clinic at its national hospital closed in 2012, Honiara was left with just six public dental chairs, of which only three were fully functional, for a city the size of Ballarat.
Ballarat dentist Dr David Goldsmith from the Rotary Club of Ballarat West led a team of nine Rotary members from Ballarat, Horsham and Mount Martha to Honiara last month to furnish, equip and make functional the new dental rooms and a custom-designed sterilising room.
In just two weeks the team transformed the rooms in to fully operational dental surgeries.
The work involved specialist surgery design, installation of dental chairs, compressors, suction motors, installing dental cabinets, painting rooms, varnishing worktops, plumbing and other works.
"This is a new era for the Solomon Islands dental system," Dr Goldsmith said. "There are now more surgeries for more patients to get in to and difficult, complex cases will be able to be seen by specialists which is something that has not happened before."
Adelaide Dental Hospital donated eight dental chairs that had been replaced, and almost two tonnes of custom-made dental cabinetry flat packs were manufactured to order in China and shipped to the Solomon Islands.
Three massive shipping containers of equipment were needed to transform the empty rooms in to functional dental surgeries.
Dr Goldsmith said while the Solomon Islands had an over-supply of dentists, they had not previously had the facilities to work in.
"Due to a lack of working facilities, patients in pain are being turned away. Many dentists are working only part time and in addition the inactivity, especially for the many interns, could lead to them losing their skills.
The new surgery will allow dentists to offer oral surgery, fillings and root canals, dental prosthetics, a gum care clinic, child dental clinic, school and community dental service and outpatient dental clinics.
"There was a desperate need for it there," Dr Goldsmith said. "They couldn't do it themselves. Dentistry is a universal need but it's not on a par when it comes to funding."
In addition to donated items, more than $50,000 in financial support came from the Rotary clubs of Berwick, Ballarat West, Honiara, Mt Martha, Torquay, Metrology Ballarat and other organisations.