Greetings from Medical Sailing Ministries and welcome to the December 2019 edition of "Member Update"
It's been an action-packed 12 months for Medical Sailing Ministries Inc, since the launch of the National Oral Health Survey & Vanuatu Oral Health Policy 2019-2023, around this time last year.
A Focus on Oral Health
Whilst it would be nice to take Chimere back to Vanuatu again - transporting health teams around the remote islands - for the last two years we have felt drawn to expand the oral health work; which hasn't required a boat.
This has involved working with the newly formed Integrated Oral Health, Eyecare and ENT Unit, within Vanuatu's Ministry of Health, to introduce the supervised tooth brushing program - Gudfala Tut Skul - into more schools and kindergartens. A total of six schools this year, and plans for 30-40 next year ! All of which is requiring us to ramp-up our Gudfala Tut Paste manufacturing capability (in Port Vila).
It's NOT a cost, it's a SAVING
Reflecting on what we all intuitively know, there is no doubt, the simple act of brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, not only has positive benefits for oral health in the short term, but also for a person's long term overall health and well-being.
So, whilst a national brushing program in schools might seem like a "cost" ... over the medium to longer term it's a massive national saving, as healthier teeth, mean healthier bodies, which in turn means less additional downstream ailments - all of which have a cost, both personally and nationally; measured financially, but of course in pain and suffering too!
Tank Yu Tumas
We really have packed a lot of news into the latest newsletter, so I won't start repeating it all here. Only that we regularly get thanked when we are in Vanuatu, and the fact is, without the assistance of all the MSM friends and supporters we couldn't do what we do! For the donations, for the prayers and encouragement, for the volunteer assistance and for the resources, time and experience of individuals and businesses, all freely-given.
So, as they say in Vanuatu ... Tank Yu Tumas !!
In closing, may you and your family enjoy a safe and blessed Christmas. With time taken, if you can, to really experience some JOY; despite the busy-ness and the many challenges this time of year often presents.
We look forward to a productive and useful 2020, and again thank you for your interest and support !
Lukim Yu & Cheers
Rob Latimer, Mike Clarke & the MSM Team
Why not also check out the Gudfala Tut Facebook page ...
Gudfala Tut Facebook Page
The Past 12 Months
Medical Sailing Ministries conducted four outreach missions throughout 2017 in conjunction with PCV Health. (www.pcvhealth.org)
Each mission-team comprised between 12 and 15 people, both Ni-Van (local) and overseas volunteers, taking dental, eyecare and medical services to a total of eighteen islands. (Tanna, Aniwa, Futuna, Erromango, Emae,Tongoa, Epi, Lamen, Paama, Ambrym, Santo, Ambae, Pentecost, Maewo, Merelava, Gaua, Vanualava and Ureparapara.)
(Front l-r, Oral Therapist Barkon Japeth & dentist Dr Wellin Jerethy with Bob and Richard behind)
A total of 45 self-funded volunteers participated over the six month period, with some of the clinical stats. included below for those who like their numbers…
- 728 eyecare patients seen, with 413 pairs of spectacles dispensed and 35 referrals made.
- 718 dental patients (extracting 873 teeth, eleven from one woman alone), and
- 966 medical patients treated
National Oral Health Survey
In addition, MSM coordinated a National Oral Health Survey on behalf of the Vanuatu Ministry of Health. It is the first such survey ever to be conducted in Vanuatu and is being done in accordance with strict World Health Organisation (WHO) methodologies. The survey encompasses around 1% of the population (approx. 2,800 people) across 5 different age cohorts, in 90 locations (urban, rural & remote) and on more than 30 of the country’s 63 inhabited islands. It involved a tooth-by-tooth oral examination, plus a detailed interview questionnaire conducted in the local language by mostly local volunteers and health professionals.
Once completed, (later this year) the final report will be published on the WHO oral health database and used as the foundation for the establishment of a National Oral Health Plan, to address the health-catastrophe that is unfolding as a result of the adoption of a largely sugar-based diet; as is the case in most Pacific-island nations.
Again, we thank you for your ongoing interest, encouragement and support.
To the volunteers … you did an amazing job, and without you the program simply would not have got off the ground … or left the wharf … as the case may be.
Whilst there is now uncertainty about the very survival of PCV Health in the wake of their funding “issues”, underneath we feel there is a real opportunity here to put the health program on a firm, sustainable and independent footing for the future. Your donation towards the interim, short-term funding, to keep the team of eight together, would really be welcome, whatever you feel able to give.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and tank yu tumas !
Robert Latimer & Mike Clarke