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HVO completes orthodontics program in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam—After more than 17 years of training and service by dentist volunteers, the Health Volunteers Overseas Oral Health Program has successfully completed its objectives.

Dr. C. Neil Kay receives 2011 HVO Golden Apple award

Dr. C. Neil Kay, an orthodontist in Montgomery, Ill., received a 2011 Golden Apple Award from Health Volunteers Overseas.Image: Dr. C. Neil Kay

Dr. Kay served as program director for an orthodontics training program in Vietnam for more than 17 years, enabling Vietnamese citizens in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to have greater access to orthodontic treatment.

Since 1993, Dr. Kay made more than 30 trips to Vietnam and has served as HVO’s program director for the sites from 1997 to 2003 and again from 2006 to 2010. His program is the first within the HVO oral health programs to close because the program is now self-sustaining with Vietnamese leaders and faculty.

“I am very honored to receive the Golden Apple award,” said Dr. Kay. “I would like to thank the ADA and the many volunteers who worked with me to make the Vietnam orthodontic program a success. Without their invaluable assistance and time this project would not have been possible.”

Dr. Kay has been a member of HVO’s Oral Health Steering Committee and served as chair from 2004 to 2006. He also served on the ADA Committee for International Programs and Development.

A recipient of the U.S. Presidential Call to Service Award in 2006, which recognizes more than 4,000 hours of voluntary service, Dr. Kay has been a member of HVO since 1994 and is a member of the American Dental Association, the American Association of Orthodontists, the Illinois State Dental Society, Fox River Valley Dental Society and the Aurora Dental Society.

Dr. Kay is currently working with Hanoi Medical University to initiate a postgraduate program in orthodontics using blended learning with modular e-learning based in the U.S.

The long-term program, which logged 71 trips by HVO volunteers and training of local dental professionals and dental students in orthodontics, was completed in February.

“The program started at the request of the Orthodontic Department chair in the dental school in Ho Chi Minh City to teach fixed appliances,” said Dr. C. Neil Kay, program director and an orthodontist in Montgomery, Ill. “Over time the orthodontic faculty in Hanoi and dentists in the orthodontic departments in the government clinics joined in. All government orthodontists have been involved with the HVO program at some time as well as the orthodontic faculty at the newly opened dental schools in Hue and Can Tho. This has improved the level of orthodontic treatment of patients throughout Vietnam, as the faculty have created and taught postgraduate programs in orthodontics through the universities.”

Dr. Kay was one of seven honorees to receive the HVO 2011 Golden Apple Award for his long-time dedication to the Vietnam program and other HVO leadership roles.

“The HVO Orthodontic Program has developed orthodontic awareness in undergraduate dental students with a greater understanding of the need and use of interceptive orthodontics by general practitioners,” Dr. Kay added. “The next stage will be developing a blended learning program with the Medical University of Hanoi to help the faculty create an orthodontic postgraduate teaching program to World Federation of Orthodontists standards.”

Health Volunteers Overseas, based in Washington, D.C., is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to improving the availability and quality of health care in developing countries through the training and education of local health care providers. HVO volunteers provide education, mentoring and professional development opportunities to health care providers in more than 80 programs in 25 countries around the world.

The American Dental Association sponsors the HVO Oral Health Initiative. For more information about the ADA/HVO Oral Health Initiative and/or to learn about volunteer opportunities, contact the ADA Division of Global Affairs, Ext. 2726.