GULF, together with Dent Chula, continues ‘GULF Sparks Smiles’ mobile dental unit in its third year
Kicking off with the first dental unit for the blind
Gulf Energy Development Public Company Limited (GULF) and the Faculty of Dentistry, Chulalongkorn University (Dent Chula) continue the “GULF Sparks Smiles” mobile dental unit in its third year, with the first unit at the Bangkok School for the Blind, Bangkok. This marks the start of a special unit to expand the reach of the target group by increasing access to quality treatment for the visually impaired. This reflects the extended effort of the initiative, which aimed to provide mobile dental units in distant communities, far from the nearest health centers or with limited access to dental care services. The campaign’s goal is to improve the quality of life of people in society by providing them with quality dental care from an experienced group of volunteer dentists.
Assoc. Prof. Lt. Rangsima Sakoolnamarka, Associate Dean for International Affairs Corporate Communication and Social Activities, Faculty of Dentistry, Chulalongkorn University, stated “The faculty of dentistry, Chulalongkorn University, recognizes the problem of accessing dental treatment for visually impaired people. Therefore, we usually come here to Bangkok School for the Blind to treat children’s teeth. As a consequence of GULF’s funding, this initiative has been expanded to include other visually impaired persons, not just the students here, so they can receive free professional oral and dental health care.
Mr. Pirachpon Thanapatthamrong, Assistant Director, Operations, Bangkok School for the Blind, said, “This school for the blind functions similarly to a center for visually impaired individuals in general, offering space for distributing relevant information and assisting the visually impaired community. When the school was informed that ‘GULF Sparks Smiles’, the mobile dental unit, which is a collaboration between GULF and Dent Chula, would be visiting the school, we then informed the Association of the Blind and affiliated networks so that visually impaired people will come here to receive dental treatment.”
Apisara Apiboon, D.D.S., a volunteer dentist for GULF Sparks Smiles, revealed that after she graduated and had to work upcountry, she witnessed the hardships of people in remote places who have to travel long distances to see the dentist, and each time, they cannot get the full treatment due to equipment limitations and a lack of doctors. Even though she has decided to open her own dental clinic, she still makes time and looks for opportunities to volunteer as a dentist to help those in need. She discovered this project on Gulf Spark’s Facebook fan page, which resonated with her determination, so she messaged the company and asked to be a volunteer dentist in this project. Even if she does not receive monetary compensation, it rewards her with good feelings and makes her happy that she is using her professional skills to aid and care for impoverished people, and she hopes that a great project like this will continue in the future.
Phuwit Chuenwattana, a grade 7 student from Rachawinit Matthayom School, and GULF Sparks Smiles volunteer, said, “I am delighted to have such an opportunity to volunteer for GULF Sparks Smiles because my father, who works at GULF, told me that he often joins the company in undertaking CSR projects. Currently, the semester is over as well. After volunteering, I found that this project is not only about helping people receive free dental services but also creating equal opportunities for many people in society too.”
Tachakorn Sookpiromkasem, a grade 10 student from Assumption Convent School, and GULF Sparks Smiles volunteer, added, “Since my mother works at GULF, she encouraged me to join this social work because I have lots of spare time during the semester break. I am delighted I can make use of my free time in a constructive and productive manner. Here I have assisted the visually impaired by measuring their pressure and escorting them. Therefore, I would like to invite everyone to become a volunteer whenever the opportunity arises, because our small help could be huge for many people.”
“GULF Sparks Smiles” offers basic dental care such as fillings, tooth extraction, scaling, fluoride coating, and x-rays, as well as more complicated procedures like removing wisdom tooth. The unit’s daily capacity is approximately 150-200 cases. Additionally, GULF volunteer staff assisted with registration and escorting. This year, there will be 3 additional locations for the mobile dental unit. Please visit GULF Spark Facebook fan page at https://www.facebook.com/GulfSPARK.TH/ for more updates and information.