UBC GPR Team Raises $12k for Cambodian Children’s Hospital

December, 2008 – Participants in UBC Dentistry’s General Practice Residency Training Program (GPR) raised over $12,000 for a local children’s hospital while on their biannual community dentistry rotation in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The money raised from marathon pledges will directly fund the hospital’s dental program for an improved radiology system and salaries to hire more local dentists.

The annual Angkor Wat International Half Marathon is a popular event for runners from around the world. Dr. Christopher Zed, associate dean, Strategic and External Affairs, and head, Postgraduate and Hospital Programs, was quick to make good use of the marathon’s fundraising capabilities this past December. “Two residents and I decided to enter the marathon that would be taking place while we were in Cambodia for rotations, and that soon grew into nine additional people who believed in our cause joining us from Vancouver.”

The cause Zed refers to is the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), the base for UBC GPR community dentistry rotations. The dental clinic within the AHC provides full dental treatment and much-needed patient education in Siem Reap, as well as outreach to outlying villages. UBC GPR residents participate in both hospital-based care and community outreach.

“It astounded me that nine additional people— personal trainers from Vancouver—wanted to run the marathon with us and get further involved,” says Zed. These trainers not only raised pledge money, but they also provided their expertise in personal health and wellbeing to the Cambodian health care workers. “This was a very unique kind of knowledge transfer to the local dental staff. The more they understand how to take care of themselves, the better they can provide health care in one of the most impoverished regions in their country.”

The knowledge transfer that occurs between dentistry residents and local health care workers is a significant contribution to a country where years of civil and foreign wars has wiped out most of the professional population. Zed explains that dental treatment is often delivered outdoors in shaded dirt areas, using flashlights and with no suction, or in schools, on desks where up to 160 tooth extractions can occur per day.

Currently half of the thirteen million Cambodians are under fifteen years old. Fiftyone percent of the Cambodian children are malnourished, and one in seven will die before his or her fifth birthday. The average salary of a Cambodian dentist is the equivalent of $1,200 to $3,000 per year.