Dental distributer donates $20,000 to UBC Dentistry’s International Programs

June 1, 2009

Vancouver, BC – The British Columbia office of Henry Schein Inc., a worldwide distributor of healthcare products, has presented UBC Dentistry with a $20,000 donation.

The money will establish the “Henry Schein (BC) International Dental Outreach Fund” which will support ongoing initiatives of international dentistry programs that include sending UBC dental teams to Southeast Asia.

Both general practice residents (GPRs) and dental students perform fieldwork (primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia) providing much needed oral health service to disadvantaged communities.

While addressing the immediate oral health needs of patients is the manifest benefit of international outreach, the latent benefits—an enhanced learning environment for GPRs and students and the transfer of knowledge to local health care workers—has lasting effects.

Red Barnes, general manager of Henry Schein’s BC zone, was looking for a different kind of giving. “Typically distributors would donate supplies to outreach programs,” he says, “but that’s short-lived. We were looking to give something more. By supporting students in their international outreach, we are helping them to become better dentists here at home and also to leave something very good, very lasting actually, in the host country.”

Dr. Christopher Zed, associate dean, Strategic and External Affairs, and head, Post Graduate and Hospital Programs, explains that the majority of the people treated in the international outreach programs have advanced medical diseases (e.g., dehydration, malaria, blood disorders, rare viruses, dengue fever, HIV, and oral cancer) that either do not exist in North America or whose frequency is rare. “Certainly exposure to these diseases is invaluable to GPRs and students for their clinical experience. Combine this with their presence and legacy in the host country and it becomes evident that the arching benefits of the international program are a two-way street.”

Zed is referring to the three main components upon which the international program are founded: community service outreach, sustainability and knowledge transfer. Zed is aware of the numerous agencies around the world that reach out to help less developed countries, but insists that UBC Dentistry’s program is unique.

“Not only do we work in the field treating immediate disease, but our program also considers dental disease and its burden, in relation to overall health and wellness,” he says.

The UBC team focuses on the long-term impact of its involvement in collaboration with local health care or educational institutions in the host country. Through developing oral health programs for patients and sharing its expertise with local peers (doctors, dentists, nurses), the UBC team advances the knowledge of the community, with the primary goal of improving the quality of their daily life.

“UBC Dentistry is committed to supporting these international initiatives that provide enhanced learning for our students and improve the health of those with whom we come into contact.” Zed asserts. “True aid is the sustainable piece—the transfer of knowledge into a local resources plan—and we are very pleased that Henry Schein supports our successful model.”

Barnes believes that Zed and his dental team make a lasting difference, especially in the 330 days they are not in the field. “This gift, this inaugural infusion of money, reflects Henry Schein’s commitment to the enduring values of this program. We hope to continue this support in the future.” Barnes says.