Seal Cambodia Full Update

SEAL CAMBODIA was launched in late 2012 in primary schools around Phnom Penh. The project was initiated by the Global Child Dental Fund (GCDF), with additional sponsorship from CamKids (the Cambodian Children’s Charity), and the GC Asia Dental Company. The three-year project aimed to prevent tooth decay by providing preventive dental sealants and oral health education to 60,000 Grade 1 and 2 children. 

A consortium of local dental providers joined forces to carry out fissure sealants on the first permanent molar teeth of children in 98 schools across  Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kampot and Kampong Speu. The project brought together the Cambodian dental profession, international and local NGO’s, dental schools, and the Ministries of Health and Education. 

With the support of the Oral Health Office at the Ministry of Health (MOH), and the School Health Department at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MOEYS), local dental groups worked with the international donors to implement the SEAL CAMBODIA project. These local groups include the International University, University of Puthisastra, the Dental Nurses School (Kampong Cham), three local NGOs (One-2-One Cambodia, Cambodia Buddhist Library Project, and Cambodia World Family), and the Cambodian Dental Association.  Each partner was assigned schools to “seal”, and were provided with the instruments and materials to carry this out within the school grounds.  A mixture of dental professionals, dental students, and dental assistants, both from Cambodia and overseas, worked strenuously over the three years to achieve their target. 

One dental company (GC Asia) donated sufficient material to seal the teeth of the 60,000 children. Most children required 3 or 4 teeth to be sealed.  Unfortunately some permanent teeth had already decayed and could not be sealed.  Each child was also provided with a toothbrush, and was given dental health education.  A brief report was sent home to the parent afterwards, containing information on how to prevent dental caries, how many sealants had been placed, and whether or not the child needed to see a dentist. The project was closely monitored by the NGO One-2-One Cambodia (which coordinated the whole project). One-2-One also collected data on some of the children so that the beneficial effects of the project could be measured. Although the final results are not yet available, the results showed a 95% reduction in decay in the sealed teeth after 1 year. The sealed children will not have to experience the pain and infection that so many other children (who did not have the opportunity to be sealed) have to suffer. 

In recognition of the success of the project, the World Dental Federation (FDI) recently gave it an international award, sponsored by Colgate Palmolive. The President of the Cambodian Dental Association, Dr Yam Solita, will collect the award in October in Poland at the FDI World Congress.  Cambodia is now recognized as leading the world in this type of dental public health program.

Another very positive recent development occured earlier this month. The St. James's Place Foundation, the charitable arm of the St. James's Place Wealth Management Group, provided a grant of 10,000 GBP to assist with funding SEAL CAMBODIA for a further year.

On June 28, a special ceremony was held at Norodom Primary School to celebrate the completion of sealing 60,000 children. All the partners in the project were present, as well as representatives from the MOEYS, MOH and participating schools. There was a demonstration of the SEAL CAMBODIA project, as well as speeches, and song and dance performances by some of the children.    

The project has reached its target of sealing 60,000 children. It has been a good demonstration of how different groups, both local and international, can work together to make a significant difference in the health of Cambodia’s children. All of the project participants and stakeholders are now looking forward to the future with plans to treat tens of thousands more children.