Founded in 1992 and incorporated as a non-profit organization registered with the US Federal government and the State of California in 1993–the Armenian Dental Society of California (ADSC) has organized several projects aiming to serve the Armenian community in Armenia. ADSC has also planned activities here in California.
Locally–ADSC has provided a forum for Armenian Dental Professional (dentists–hygienists–and assistants) to interact with one another. It has also offered continuing education classes to its members on a regular basis–presented by faculty members teaching in California Dental Schools and other experts in the field.
In order to serve the local Armenian community’s dental needs–to educate and disseminate information about dental health–ADSC–in the past–has participated in several free dental screenings at local Armenian elementary schools ADSC members have met with PTA and church groups–and contributed to a health fair sponsored by the Armenian Medical Association.
To encourage young Armenia’s to become more involved in the community–ADSC offers free membership to students enrolled in California Dental Schools. A scholarship of $1000 is offered each year in memory of Dr. Nishan Kazazian who made many contributions to the association.
Soon after its establishment–aiding in the betterment of the quality of dental care and dental health in the Homeland became one of ADSC’s main goals. To this effect–the first trip to Armenia was organized in May of 1994.
The objective of this trip was to assess the quality of care–equipment and techniques used in local clinics–the level of education provided in dental schools–the access to dental care and the prevalence of dental diseases in the country. Meetings were held with the Ministry of Health of Armenia. Dental Clinics and Institutes were visited. The findings were as follows:
Most local clinics lacked the equipment and materials needed to meet the great deman’s of the population in Yerevan. In remote regions–access to dental care was almost non-existent. Because of the lack of training in the Dental Institute (again due to lack of equipment and materials)–graduates were not adequately prepared to treat patients; some were even pursuing other careers. Furthermore–because of the lack of public education and preventive programs–the unavailability of basic dental hygiene materials such as toothbrushes and toothpaste–the prevalence of dental problems among the population was alarming. To address these issues–ADSC established Project Armenia.
Phase one of Project Armenia involved making dental care available to a greater number of people. Two stationary clinics in Yeghegnatzor and Etchmiadzin have been established for this purpose–each equipped through generous donations from Armenian and American dentists as well as dental supply companies in the United States. In addition–a mobile clinic was set up to provide free dental services in Yerevan and in remote villages–with the approval of the Ministry of Health.
The mobile clinic serves three functions: educate the general population about dental health by visiting schools and orphanages and attending town meetings; prevent oral diseases by giving oral hygiene instructions–distributing toothbrushes and toothpaste–and by providing fluoride treatment to children; finally–render full dental treatment–especially to young patients.
To date–hundreds of children and adults have benefited from the mobile clinic. As many as 12 volunteer groups including dentists–hygienists and assistants from the United States–Canada and Europe have offered their services to this clinic. Just recently–ADSC purchased a bus–to be equipped with two dental chairs–an x-ray unit and a complete sterilization system. This bus will be fully functional as early as the end of 2000.
Phase two Project Armenia aims at creating educational programs for local dentists so that they are better able to care for the patients in their communities. To this effect–ADSC has helped to organize several continuing education lectures. More recently–ADSC undertook the task of establishing a dental reference library at the Yerevan Medical Institute. This library–which will be operating in a few weeks–will be equipped with various dental publications–journals–textbooks–multimedia capabilities as organizations’ web sites. Several ADSC members and supporters have donated hundreds of journals and textbooks for this library.
For the past eight years–ADSC has relied on the moral and financial support of its members as well as generous benefactors in the community to pursue its goals. Much has been accomplished to date. Much more needs to be done in our local communities here in California–as well as in Armenia. We call upon the members for our community to assist ADSC in its present and future endeavors. For further information and/or tax-deductible contributions–please contact us at: ADSC–P.O Box 2074–Glendale–CA 91209-2074 or call at (714) 249-2745.