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Operation Santa Claus

The global charity helping Hong Kong’s dental patients with special needs smile again

  • Christian charity HOPE Worldwide aims to fill gap in affordable dental services for needy with care programme
  • Group opened clinics in Sham Shui Po and Kwai Chung to cater to districts’ poor
PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 November, 2018, 10:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 November, 2018, 1:10pm

There is not a lot of room in a 100 sq ft treatment area of a dental clinic in Kwai Chung, run by charity HOPE Worldwide, but what this establishment lacks in space, it makes up for with heart.

A team of specially trained dentists and custom-built equipment caters to wheelchair-bound patients.

Jonathan Liu Lap-hang, executive director of HOPE Worldwide, said the organisation wanted to provide affordable and quality dental care for people with disabilities in Hong Kong.

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“Once they are treated, then they can smile again,” he said.

True to this spirit, HOPE runs two dental clinics in the city under the care programme “Smile Again”. The project is supported by funding from Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity campaign jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK.

Liu said dentists under the programme were trained to serve patients with special needs.

To take their cause a step further, HOPE Worldwide intends to upgrade its dental clinics in the city with more sophisticated equipment, such as a wheelchair reclining platform.

The device will hold a wheelchair firmly in place while it reclines, allowing the patient to be treated while still in a sitting position, without having to be transferred to a dental chair.

“It can save time and increase our productivity,” Liu said.

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Apart from improving its services, the charity also subsidises treatment for the needy.

Liu estimated that a total of 1,200 patients with disabilities would benefit from the programme.

HOPE Worldwide is an international Christian charity seeking to deliver sustainable and high-impact education and health services to the poor and needy.

The group opened clinics in Sham Shui Po and Kwai Chung because it found that many underprivileged families living in the districts required affordable dental care.

Dan Liu Te-hwa, the organisation’s country director in China, said his team aimed to fill the gap in community care.

“There were services not being provided,” he said.

He said the group put a lot of work into improving the well-being of children and the elderly.

Liu added that the team had raised funds in different ways to support their charity work.

“We are also working increasingly like a social enterprise, and trying to maintain the sustainability of our programmes.”