Taipei Medical University Oral Medical Service Teams Visited Rural Areas

Source: College of Oral Medicine

Published on 2021-01-12

In 2020-2021, TMU College of Oral Medicine sent three medical service teams, comprised of faculty members and students, to visit remote areas in Taiwan.

Putting their expertise to practice, members of these teams visited villages and towns in Taiwan to provide appropriate medical assistance and promote oral health care knowledge. By doing so, TMU hopes to make a positive change to the uneven distribution of medical resources around the island.

TMU 114 Medical Service Team

In collaboration with

The TMU 114 Medical Service Team, consisting of 11 physicians and 19 students, provided free clinic services to the outlying island of Lienchiang County (連江縣) in 2020-2021.

The TMU 114 Medical Service Team was established in the fall of 2019. The team was founded by Dr. Yan-Che Wu (巫仰哲), a faculty member from College of Oral Medicine and Kai-Wen Chen, a dentistry student. Code “114” is the birth date of Dr. Albert Schweitzer (January 14), who is known for his long-term humanitarian medical work in Africa. The service team is named after his birthday in the hope  that its members will uphold the spirit of Schweitzer by bringing medical services to the communities in need with goodness,, thus passing on a legacy of continuous learning and giving back to the society.

In response to the needs of locals, the free clinic provides diverse services. Dentistry, ophthalmology and dermatology treatments and Chinese medicine acupuncture and cupping therapy were integrated in the patient care to help release the pain. Nutritionists in the team also explained the medical advice given by doctors to the locals, encouraging self-help actions to relieve the physical discomforts.

Dentist Dr. Huan-Yuan Huang (黃煥元) (right) giving professional health education after treatment

Chinese medicine physician Dr. Hsin-Fu Yeh (葉信甫) (left) helping patient with muscle and bone pain

Dr. Chin-Sung Chen (陳錦松), a physician with rich volunteer experiences, mentioned that “Participating in medical mission teams, whether to remote villages in Taiwan or abroad, is a good practical experience for students. It is also an important character education, which should be much encouraged and greatly commended.”

Dr. Chin-Sung Chen (陳錦松) (left) providing dental treatment

In fact, compared with other developing countries, medical care provision in rural Taiwan is relatively good. In the past, students gained a deeper understanding of how differently other people in the world live when serving in the underdeveloped countries. That helped cultivate students’ empathy in preparing for their future career. Participating in medical services is the best opportunity for the students to apply their knowledge and skills before practicing them in the workplace.

Group photo of the physicians and students of the 114 Medical Service Team

Team Taipei Medical University Service Overseas (TMUSO)

The TMUSO formed a team of 5 doctors and 13 students to visit Yanping Township in Taitung County (台東縣延平鄉).

In only 5 working days, they served about 300 children and members of the public[1], providing oral hygiene education, oral examination, fluorine application and free dental clinic services.

TMUSO members teaching the Bass brushing technique(貝氏刷牙法) to children

As an overseas service team, , the TMUSO previously brought their dental medical services to places such as South India or Nepal, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, TMUSO reorganized themselves to serve remote areas in east Taiwan, , which turned out to be another immensely fruitful experience for its members.

The team spent a month completing the intensive pre-trip training and preparation. With the advice and assistance of predecessors in the dental service team, the service was successfully carried out.

Through this experience, the TMUSO gained a better understanding of the uneven distribution of medical resources in Taiwan. At the same time, the oral hygiene education helped the local teachers and students learn good oral health and pass their knowledge to the local people.

Group photo of the TMUSO team and teachers and students after the free clinic at Chulu Junior High School (初鹿國中)

Volunteer Service Team of Oral Care (VSTOC)

The VSTOC, comprising nearly 50 students, visited three elementary schools and five villages in Taitung County[2] to provide oral hygiene education, oral examination, home visits and free dental clinics.

Established for more than 40 years, VSTOC has penetrated towns and villages in Taiwan where dental care resources are lacking. The team not only provides free dental clinics for elementary school children and residents but visits local families to enhance understanding of oral hygiene knowledge among the elderly with limited mobility.

Free clinic in Dawu Township (大武村)

Home visits to the elderly in Pacavalj (大鳥村) to teach them the use of floss

Before joining the service mission, VSTOC members must complete one year of professional dental courses, pass screening, and undertake the pre-departure training. The training courses include practical knowledge required in organizing oral examination, free clinic site, health promotion sessions, and  home visits to ensure that the team members have sufficient preparation and capability for unexpected situations.

Team members practicing in the oral examination simulation course

Furthermore, to better communicate the oral healthcare knowledge to the public, the VSTOC has improved their promotional materials, upgrading from the hand-painted posters, printed communications and PowerPoint presentations of earlier times to today’s short-film production. The VSTOC believes that prevention is better than cure and will continue to help the locals tackle their dental health issues.

Group photo of the VSTOC with professors on TMU campus before departing

[1] The service venue was at the Pasikau Church (巴喜告教會) in Yanping Township, Taitung County. The service targets included people at Chulu Junior High School (初鹿國中), Rui-yuan Junior High School (瑞源國中), Tapo Elementary School (大坡國小), Tai-Ping Elementary School (太平國小), Kidsalive International Christian Care for Children at Risk (基督教阿尼色弗兒童之家), Hai Shan Child Welfare (海山寺扶兒家園) and Pasikau Tribe (桃源/巴喜告部落).

[2] Dawu Township (大武鄉), Jinfeng Township (金峰鄉), Taimali Township (太麻里鄉) and Daren Township (達仁鄉).