In part 2 of his blog, Mark Topley, CEO of Bridge2Aid, talks to The REVU about his current plans and vision for the charity
What’s currently happening with Bridge2Aid?
Last year we were invited by the Tanzanian government to put together a national expansion plan which will allow us to pass on our skills and knowledge into the hands of government at every level across the country. Our focus is to strengthen the health care system, creating an emergency dental service on a national level, which is a huge thing for us. At the same time, we recognise the model we have devised will work, and is very necessary, in other parts of the world. We worked as part of a group with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to put together a new manual about preventing and managing oral diseases common in Africa and within it, it advocates for training local health workers in emergency dentistry and integrating oral health care into general health care.
We see ourselves as an implication model for this wider health policy, and that means our model can work elsewhere. We do not aim to set up a Bridge2Aid office in every country, but we recognise there are partners on the ground already working in different countries, who have the support, cultural understanding and infrastructure that we can serve by giving them access to our training teams to provide emergency dental services in just the same way as we have done in Tanzania.
What’s your vision for the future of Bridge2Aid?
I became involved with the charity in the first instance because there is a huge need globally for access to emergency dental care, but there didn’t seem to be any pragmatic response to do anything about it. Dentistry’s expensive, it’s the 4th most expensive form of health care to administer and very difficult to provide, especially in developing countries. We wanted to create a simple, practical way of addressing the basic needs, not as an alternative to dentistry but as an alternative to no dentistry.
I want us to be seen as part of a movement of people who’ve come together to provide a way out of dental pain, the causes of such pain, and help provide access to emergency dentistry and deal with untreated dental pain worldwide. The whole idea of the bridge (in Bridge2Aid) is about providing an opportunity for the dental community to use their skills overseas in a way that helps countries to develop, rather than just doing things piecemeal that only work for a short space of time and leave nothing behind. That is our long term vision.
If you would like to donate to the Straumann Charity Bike ride to help Bridge2Aid achieve their vision for the future, of access to quality dental care for all then please visit the Straumann Charity Bike Ride JustGiving Page https://www.justgiving.com/teams/Straumann2016
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