Koha-based dental care set to resume

The YWAM Koha.

Bay of Plenty adults who are living with constant oral pain that affects their quality of life will be given another chance to receive free dental care if they also hold a Community Services card.

The success of a five-week pilot programme to deliver free dental care in the region has convinced those behind Tauranga Moana’s medical aid ship that they must continue to offer the service to those most in need while they can.

The clinic will resume on September 27 for another three weeks, in Judea and Welcome Bay.

Christian humanitarian organisation Youth with a Mission Ships Aotearoa used their mobile dental containers to treat 463 local patients in June, delivering treatment worth $165,658, after Covid-19 prevented the M/V YWAM KOHA from sailing to remote Pacific Island villages to fulfil its original mission.

Instead, the ship’s mobile dental clinics were transported to Welcome Bay, Te Puke and Kawerau for what became known as The Trinity Koha Dental Clinic.

Patients were able to give a koha (donation) if they wished in return for dental treatment, but there was no expectation to pay.

Managing director for YWAM Ships Aotearoa, Marty Emmett, says the organisation was blown away by the demand and the desperate need for oral health care that some people face.

“It was unbelievable to see the pain that some people are living with simply because they cannot afford to see a dentist,” says Marty.

“We had queues out the door, but it was heartening we were able to treat almost 500 people during that initial trial.

“We feel obligated now to keep going based on what we’ve seen, because we’ve only just scratched the surface. We need to keep going.”

Adult Community Services card holders, who are living with constant oral pain that effects their quality of life, are invited to email the clinic team via: dental@ywamships.co.nz to register their interest.

The M/V YWAM KOHA is berthed at Vessel Works beside Tauranga Harbour Bridge, and four open days will be held in the last two weekends of August (21-22 and 28-29) so people can look around the ship and learn how it operates.



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