Sri Lanka - Oral Health Camp in rural area

by Joakim Rademark* and Arvid Salonen*, Faculty of Odontology, Malmo University, Sweden.


The oral health camp was conducted at Balana, Kadugannawa in the Kandy District of Sri Lanka aiming the rural poor community. The overall aim of the programme was to provide an opportunity to improve oral health of those who have less opportunity to attend a dental clinic either in the government or private sector. This outreach programme included oral mucosal screening for oral cancer and precancer, oral health education and dental treatment. The programme was initiated by Dr Anura Ariyawardana, consultant and a senior lecturer attached to the Division of Oral Medicine, Dental Hospital (teaching), University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and was funded by the Lions club of Kandy Hill Capital (306 C1), Sri Lanka.

This presentation is based on the information and pictures collected by Mr Arvid Salonen and Mr Joakim Rademark, two final year dental students from the Faculty of Odontology, Malmo, Sweden who were visiting the Faculty of Dental Sciences in Sri Lanka in March 2008 and had the opportunity to accompany the Oral health camp team on their visit to Thapalpolawatte village, situated in the outskirts of Kadugannawa area.

Lecture - Oral health/cancer information

Examination of both old and young

Children reading information banners

Queue outside the building

For people living in rural areas of Sri Lanka, access to the dentist on a regular basis can be difficult. Even though the government dental care is free, poor infrastructure and expenses incurred on travelling to and from the government clinic, keep many away from receiving dental examinations for long periods of time. In addition - Sri Lanka is one of the countries in the world with high prevalence of oral cancer and hence, early detection of oral precancer and cancer is absolutely essential.
The oral health camp, apart from being an excellent tool for dental practitioners to reach those in need of help, is also a perfect setting for dental students to come in contact with the community.

Simple extractions were performed

Dressed up for her dental examination

Examination kids - 
All the children were so nice and calm

Sterilization process used during the Health Camp

Project outline

People in the village were informed of the oral health camp in advance and when the Team consisting of Dental Surgeons and Students arrived at the village, patients were already waiting for treatment and advice.

Oral health education and Oral cancer related information like the dangers of smoking and betel chewing, and instructions on tooth brushing and maintaining oral health were provided in information boards that were placed in the building where the oral health camp was going on.

An educational presentation via projector explaining the causes of oral cancer and the importance of early diagnosis as well as pictures of how oral cancer appears in the mouth were shown to the villagers who were the audience. After this, visitors were examined and provided with necessary treatment and advice. Patients who need more advanced treatment were referred to the Dental Faculty in Peradeniya.

During one day of outreach programme 173 patients were examined, and those in need, treated. Often the treatment provided involved excavation of caries, simple restorations and straight forward extractions.

Dr Anura Ariyawardana excavating caries

Student Sanjeeva Adikari

The Outreach programme providing screening, advice and oral health education to people in far away villages around Kandy/Peradeniya area was very effective. For many who attended the Camp, this was the only possible way to receive oral health related advice, guidance and much needed treatment.


We would like to thank Dr Anura Ariyawardana, Dr.Kapila Boraluwa, Dr. Wasantha Kumara, Dr Ruwan Jayasinghe and Dr. Shyama Banneheka from the Faculty of Dental Sciences and Dr Ashoka Dangolla (President, Lions Club), Dr Seela Aladuwake, (Secretary), Dr. Ram Alagan, (Vice President), and Mr Lucky Wijesuriya (Treasurer) of the Lions Club, Kandy for giving us this opportunity to participate in the outreach programme.

We also wish to thank Prof Prasad Amaratunga (Dean) and the staff and students at the Faculty of Dental Sciences for the warm welcome and support during our visit.

* This project was performed by Arvid Salonen and Joakim Rademark for the Student Research Project at the Faculty of Odontology, Malmo University, Sweden under the guidance of Dr J. Stjernswärd.