Lumino Mobile Buses spend each year treating under 18-year-old students from schools all over Auckland and now they’re helping refugee children from Afghanistan.
Lumino has three mobile buses covering schools in Auckland. Mobile 1 covers central, central-west and central-east, Mobile 2 covers the north shore and Mobile 3 covers the rest, from central, west, north shore and rural areas. Mobile 3 began treating Afghan refugee children in December 2021, after their school schedule ended for the year and the number of refugees that have been treated so far is around 70.
Lumino Mobile Buses, Practice Manager Angelica Sanchez, who has been working for Mobile Buses for four years, said the Mobile 3 team continued working right up until Christmas 2021 to see the Afghanistan patients.
“It’s just one clinician (an oral health therapist) and one dental assistant treating the children. They’ve been doing a lot of work and working really hard,” she said.
The initiative started when Lumino was contacted by the DHB. Everything else was organised by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
The Mobile 3 team started out treating a couple of the refugee children at Lumino Auckland Central. They then went on to provide treatment to the refugees outside their hotel in the Mobile 3 bus.
Angelica noticed that the Mobile 3 team had a gap between schools so she reached out to MBIE and offered to visit the hotel at and park the bus outside so they could treat the children staying there.
“This year we arrived at the hotel on 31 March and the team has continued to work through the school holidays, which they usually have off. The refugees are staying at a hotel until they’re all set up over here.”
This is a free service for under 18-year old’s which is funded by The Ministry of Health. If further treatment is required Lumino then covers this cost.
“Ministry of Health covers the initial treatment but they don’t fund fissure sealants and single surface fillings, so Lumino is covering this free of charge for the Afghan refugee children.”
“For every patient, we do x-rays, a check-up and a clean. If they need any further treatment, we book a second appointment. Most of them have 3 or 4 appointments, for treatment such as fillings. We’re also giving them free dental packs which include toothpaste, a toothbrush, mouthwash, floss and information about brushing and flossing.”
The refugee children don’t currently speak any English, so the team has had to have an interpreter. The children’s oral health is significantly worse than children in New Zealand and Angelica also noted that the quality of the fillings they previously had done was ‘pretty bad’.
Another gap has opened up for the Mobile 3 bus later in the year so the team will aim to treat the Afghan children then as well. Angelica said the team hopes to make this happen annually.