Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia

Nganampa Health Council Inc

Nganampa Health Council is an Aboroginal Community Controlled Health Organisation operating on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the far north west of South Australia.  Anangu live in small communities and homelands across the APY Lands, with dirt roads connecting them.  “Nganampa” = “our”, and “Anangu” = “person” in the Pitjantjatjara language.

The dental program is provided through 2 fixed clinics and a mobile dental surgery (basically a dental clinic on the back of a truck) that services the other communities and major homelands. A new mobile dental surgery was recently constructed and has been used since early 2011.

Demonstrated improvement in kids dental health

Nganampa’s kids program provides regular dental screening, delivers atraumatic and preventive dental care, and also works with schools to encourage school based daily tooth brushing and provide dental education support.

The results are clear: after many years of this approach, we can see that while the decay rates in the primary teeth of 5-6 year olds on the APY lands are higher than the South Australian SA state average, the permanent tooth decay rates in the 12 year olds are markedly lower than the SA average.  The program is working to try to reach the under 5 year old kids, but this is challenging in an environment of high population mobility across the communities on the APY lands.

A summary of the dental program and its achievements can be viewed here.

The program employs a dentist and dental assistant and targets the following groups:

  • school children: dentally examine all school children once every year, provide atraumatic and preventive treatment
  • emergency and adult care
  • people with diabetes and chronic illness
  • people with missing teeth: denture provision
  • young adults health promotion.

Data and Research

The dental program has been routinely collecting oral health status data since 2000 in partnership with the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH) to tell the “story” of oral health on the APY lands.  The data also are vital for coordinated program evaluation and planning.

Nganampa’s dental program works with ARCPOH on research projects, including a joint study (since 2011) with Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation on the effectiveness of Silver Fluoride on caries arrestment in remote communities.  The clinical trials were completed in November 2015 and we look forward to the results.

Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia Gallery

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First world problem.... flight departure delayed while engineers fix the plane’s blocked toilet.... the day after World Toilet Day.
Update...toilet not fixable, replacement aircraft organised. First world solution.

World Toilet Day 2019. TT in 2007, the beginning of matching dental programs in Nepal with improved access to clean water and toilets. Still the work continues.

TT celebrates 20 years of working with Bishnu, project manager in Nepal. The first few years our dental programs, then adding sanitation with PP/HH, then adding earthquake reconstruction. We salute this hard working, passionate and compassionate local champion. Many thanks Bishnu Ji, dherai dherai dhanyabad mero sathi. Namaskar! ...