Vatech – supporting better care in Uganda
For the first time ever, Vatech – a market leader in digital X-ray equipment – has outreached corporate social responsibility projects in Africa.
Starting with St Benedict’s Health Centre in Uganda, the company donated a full package of dental X-ray equipment to help those most in need.
Vatech’s mission is to create a better world for others with its innovative products and services. One of its core values is respect to others – a value lived by its 1,400 employees worldwide who strive to create better clinical environments that realise the value of sharing new technology. With another of its core values being the enhancement of patient care, it was a natural move.
Vatech came across Sister Benedicta He-Hwa Yeo after reading that she had won a top award from the Asan Foundation, South Korea’s number one hospital organisation. The country has eight Asan Hospitals, with Vatech equipment included in the initial equipment settings.
In 1993, Sister Yeo was dispatched to Uganda on a charitable mission. After obtaining her nurse’s license and completing a diploma in comprehensive nursing, she embarked on an assignment to improve the quality of life for locals.
And 28 years later, she remains – making her the only Korean nun living in Uganda. Establishing the St Benedict’s Health Centre near the city of Jinja, the facility now runs general medicine along with obstetrics, gynaecology, AIDS and dentistry departments. It was the latter that caught the eye of the chairman of Vatech at the end of 2020, thousands of miles away in South Korea.
St Benedict’s Health Centre is the leading hospital in Jinja District. It sees more patients through its outpatient department (OPD) than anywhere in the area. It is named after Sister Yeo’s Catholic name – Sister Benedicta. Now, Vatech wants to help take the efforts of St Benedict’s Health Centre to the next level.
Vatech presently provides equipment to more than 100 countries worldwide. With a hub in Uganda already, this catered for the vital long-lasting contribution and support for St Benedict’s Health Centre.
Currently, local doctors at the facility treat around 200 outpatients every day. From obstetrics to first-time dental patients, the key focus is on saving lives.
Although dental work is offered, treatments are minimal – largely due to the lack of effective and up-to-date equipment. Procedures are carried out with just a single dental chair and some limited intraoral equipment.
In these poor conditions, the presence of the dental surgery indicates the extreme necessity for dental treatment, and so after making contact with the centre through its distributor, Vatech was told what was required at the facility.
The initial plan was to send everything across in one go. But like the rest of the world, COVID-19 brought some difficulties. As a result, the decision was made to ship the smaller equipment as it was prepared to go. This delivery included intraoral equipment, both sensors and handheld X-rays.
For Vatech, it was crucial that the equipment received the same checks as any items destined for a UK-based practice. After initial tests, they were shipped firstly from South Korea to Vatech UK – who manages the African region – and underwent rigorous testing. This included all secondary safety checks aligned to UK regulations set out by Public Health England (PHE). It then started its journey to Uganda.
However, shipping even the smaller items faced obstacles. Both the UK and Uganda were subject to different levels of lockdowns at different times. In Uganda, for example, COVID-19 had a more delayed effect. But the items were safely and appreciatively retrieved in May 2021. Writing to Vatech, Sister Yeo spoke of her ‘sincere appreciation’ for the donation.
A ceremony and the accompanying user training are in the pipeline once restrictions ease, with hopes it will take place in October this year. In the meantime, however, the team at St Benedict’s will be able to use the equipment to enhance their basic treatments and provide better care.
The delivery included two units of the Ezsensor Classic, an intraoral sensor, and two units of the Ezray Air P. The latter got its name from its weight – being one of the lightest on the market. It can also be operated with just one hand. The third generation of Vatech’s portable intraoral X-rays, it is unlike anything currently on the market with the dental application of carbon nanotechnology.
The technology replaced the heating filament required to generate X-rays in the previous model. As there’s no heating filament, there’s also no cooling chambers. That’s what allowed Vatech to reduce the weight of the unit.
The handheld devices also come with internal shielding and external backscatter shield, which will protect the operator from any radiation. Every individual unit was tested and approved by Public Health England (PHE).
Having only been able to see five patients a day previously, Sister Yeo and the dental team at St Benedict’s Health Centre were thrilled to be able to provide necessary treatment with the means to take digital X-rays (which can be accessed immediately). They hope to now provide better treatments to more patients.
The second delivery was set for the end of August. This time it consisted of larger equipment, such as the A9 CBCT, panoramic, and cephalometric, 3-in-1 system. Vatech and Sister Yeo will continue to cherish this special relationship in times to come.