Thousands of 'Amchi' smiles across medically ill-equipped areas of Ladakh

Thousands of 'Amchi' smiles across medically ill-equipped areas of Ladakh

A dental team comprising of interns and staff from Manipal College of Dental Sciences here has successfully conducted the third consecutive major dental outreach programme in Ladakh of Jammu Kashmir, in collaboration with European Dental Students’ Association (EDSA) under the banner of Amchi from July 30 to August 11.

The two-week exhaustive experience of community outreach programme was rewarding. The volunteers treated school children and trained healthcare providers,” said Manipal University Pro Vice Chancellor Dr H Vinod Bhat.

“The 32 volunteers reached out to a number of schools in Leh town and in remote areas such as Nubra Valley, Diskit which have poor healthcare facilities. The team comprised students, interns and doctors from nine countries -- India, UK, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, France, Romania, Japan and Croatia,” said Dr Jakka Sabareesh, the team leader. 

Over the course of the 12-day project, the multidisciplinary team provided dental health screening to 1,200 people and treatment for over 1,100 individuals.
A total of four junior and high schools were outreached during the mission. Besides, hand washing techniques according to the WHO guidelines and oral hygiene instructions were also demonstrated.

Deputy team leader Dr Pankhuri Jain said new initiatives were also undertaken wherein a dental Index, DMFT was recorded for a group of children in Chunlam Sa School, Leh.

Such records would enable the collection of data and monitoring the outcome of the Project over a period of time. Two main problems which confronted the outreach programmes were commuting and the treacherous terrain, said Dr Shashidhar Acharya, HoD, Department of Public Health of Dentistry who is one of the founders of the Amchi Project.

The European team was headed by Dr Olivia Johnson King and Dr James Higginsson (both from UK).

Dr Keiko Saito from Okayama University, Japan, joined the team for the second consecutive year on behalf of Association of Medical Doctors of Asia.    

The volunteers from Manipal University were: Dr Shashidhar Acharya, Dr Srikanth Gadicherla, Dr Kanishk Gupta, Dr Jakka Sabareesh, Dr Pankhuri Jain, Dr Soumya Jha, Dr Mehrshad Damania, Dr Siddharth Narayanan, Dr Anupam Singh, Dr Tenzin Pelki Dekeva, Dr Mohini Nayak, Dr Jamili Narayan, Dr Hanan Siddiq and Dinesh Poojary.

‘Amchi’ means ‘community medical servants’ in Ladakhi language.

They are individuals who are selflessly dedicated to support humanitarian projects for the welfare of the community. The Amchi programme is aimed at educating and increasing the skills of local healthcare providers, thus facilitating them to provide basic dental care in Ladakh.