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A new community oral health van in the Waikato is changing the way services are delivered to specific schools.

The van is a mobile dental clinic that will specifically visit kura and whare kura (Maori schools) in the greater Waikato and the dental staff working in the van can all speak Te Reo.

Waikato DHB community oral health manager Diane Pevreal said Waikato DHB, as far as she knew, was the first to design a mobile clinic that had a specialist focus for kura and whare kura.

“Staff on board are very mindful of reducing the inequalities in accessing oral health services that exist for Maori in particular, and therefore as well as allowing time for routine oral health checkups, time will be set aside for a focus on education, health promotion in a Maori specific way and fluoride varnish application,” she said.

(Left) Dental assistant Manaaki Crawford with Dental Therapist Anne-Marie Maikuku

(Left) Dental assistant Manaaki Crawford with dental therapist Anne-Marie Maikuku

“The van has also been blessed with its own story and life force that will continue to grow as it moves around communities. A mural promoting a lifetime of good oral health using the Waikato river as a core feature will adorn the internal walls of the clinic. ”

Waikato DHB executive director of community and clinical support Mark Spittal said this was a sign of a health service maturing in the way it works together with its community.

“It is staff getting into the community, using their language and developing something that engages through more than just posters and pictures. It’s an exciting and genuine step forward to improve the health outcomes for Maori people,” he said.

Waikato dental therapist Anne-Marie has worked in community oral health for the past year and will be responsible for delivering the services in the new van.

“This is going to be a new beginning for us. It is about empowering our community to work together now to improve the oral health of our people.”

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