Have Dental Travel Pack, will travel

Dr. Harle says he feels compelled to serve the poor

Nineteen dentists from across Canada, largely affiliated with Dentistes sans frontières and CMDS-EMAS, carried 29 Dental Travel Packs to the developing world in 2006. After three years of the Dental Travel Pack Program, it is well established with applications coming from many new as well as returning dentists.

Dr. Tom Harle of Health Teams International travelled twice in 2006 to bring basic oral health care to impoverished people in India and North Korea.

He went to North Korea in the summer as part of a 10-member team, where they were able to provide care for some 700 North Koreans.

“Usually we see about 2,000 patients on a mission like this but we were restricted.” The North Koreans don’t eat very much refined sugar so there were less tooth extractions than in other places where Dr. Harle has volunteered. “When I went to Sri Lanka, a lot of my work consisted of pulling teeth from young girls,” he says.

HPIC’s Dental and Physician Travel Packs are efficient, he says. “I get everything at one stop.”

Dr. Harle is an Ottawa-based dentist who specializes in prosthodentics, which means that he works with crowns, bridges and implants. He also provides care for the homeless as a volunteer with the Ottawa Mission. Serving the poor in Ottawa and in the developing world is a call, he says.

He has especially fond memories of a young father in North Korea. “He was so attentive and caring for his daughter. It touched my heart to see that people are people in every country and they want to make sure that their loved ones get help.”