On August 3, 2016 a dental team from the UK Royal Navy and Japanese Ministry of Defence arrived in Palau to take part in Pacific Partnership 16. Pacific Partnership 16 is a multinational Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief engagement led by the US Navy, the largest of its type in the Pacific region.
During their time in Palau, the UK and Japanese dental team are working alongside resident dentists sharing knowledge and assisting them with complex procedures. Using local facilities, their demanding programme will see them spend 13 days treating patients in three different locations.
The team’s first clinic was held in Belau National Hospital. Their skills were quickly put to use with a range of dental conditions. Dr Beatrix Taime, dentist at the hospital and lifetime Palau resident said:
We have a shortage of dentists in our community, so the waiting time for treatment can be 3-4 months long. The dentists on Pacific Partnership are helping with this, and are exposing us to new techniques which we will take on and use in the future. We are learning all the time.
Alongside collaborating on dental procedures, the team will also visit local schools to educate children on the importance of oral health and how to care for their teeth. The head of the UK dental team Surgeon Commander Karl Drummond of the Royal Navy said:
Working together with our Japanese colleagues and the local people is a great way to share experience and make a difference to the community in Palau. Co-operating in this way also means we will be better prepared to work together again in the future.
Combined with dental care, the Pacific Partnership 16 programme in Palau features engineering projects to improve the islands infrastructure and medical programmes including cataract surgery. Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force SHIMOKITA (LST 4002) will visit Palau for the first time, serving as a base for the activities taking place around the islands.
A truly multinational effort, Pacific Partnership 16 also includes participants from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Singapore, Republic of Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam.