Fill a large auditorium with scores of sick children, their nurses, doctors, caregivers and parents, distribute hundreds of balloons, pack a stage with dozens of gift boxes throw in a clown and two giant rabbits and you have the makings of a great party, to mark Panama’s National Oral Health Week.
The party was at the Hospital del Nino which fronts Avenida Balboa.
Elsewhere in the city during the week, dental workers walked to create awareness , organized inter-school sports competitions and a bulletin board competition in which children illustrated ways of promoting oral health. There was even a talent competition.
There was a strong emphasis on reaching children to help develop lifetime dental hygene habits.
This year they worked on a special project for with La Primavera school in Pedregal, improving the kitchen, providing a new water tank , gave dental treatment to all 80 students and set up a daily breakfast and lunch program.
They also sent out teams to distribute, gift baskets to under privileged mothers with new born babies in three major hospitals.
Hundreds of dentists brought themselves up to date at seminars.
But nowhere did they have such a good time as in the auditorium of Del Nino where different wards, dressed in team colors, and waving matching color balloons, put forward competitors to fill the roles of King and Queen for a day.
They stood on the stage, sang, danced, or made speeches to prove their worthiness for the role.
Some were bold, others timid, even tearful,with stage fright, but the show carried on with their supporters filling the room with cheers and applause, and all of the participants left clutching armed with gifts, and each ward received a major donation ranging from coffee makers and fridges to washing machines and a TV set for the recovery room.
The annual event at del Nino is managed by Dra Sol Torres who works at the Children’s Hospital and in spite of the work involved was rewarded by the the enjoyment of the of her young charges , their parents, and the staff.
Oral Health Week, with a large emphasis on children, is largely run by volunteers from the dental community and was created to draw attention to the importance or oral hygiene as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.
The organizing committee had representatives from The Panama Dental Association, The Ministry of Health, Social Security, the University of Panama, and the Latina University and was supported by corporate sponsors.