A dentist, Dr. Ankita Chandra, holds dental camps every weekend in rural India to improve medical and oral health in the country for free.
On weekends, Ankita Chandra is very busy.
While other people unwind and spend time with their families, Dr. Ankita is busy providing dental care to poor villagers.
Ankita was born in Kolkata and grew up reading the ideologies of Swami Vivekananda and Mother Teresa. This is perhaps what first instilled the sense of service in her. Her father’s transferable job took her to many small towns and villages in India. She went to school in Jharkhand and graduated from the Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College and Hospital in Kolkata.
After getting married, Ankita moved to Delhi. She joined Safdarjung Hospital as a dental surgeon, where she treated government employees. She also worked in dispensaries.
The Pusa Road Dental Dispensary, where she was working, had many senior citizens visiting for treatment. Though India didn’t have a course in geriatric dentistry at the time, Ankita started teaching herself by reading various books. She was inspired to improve the geriatric medical and oral health in the country. For this reason, she undertook three years of extensive study and cleared several online courses.
In 2013, she was nominated for the Commonwealth UK Scholarship by the Government of India to pursue a course in this field.
After her studies, Ankita wanted to do something to help people from poor backgrounds. She came to know that for every 50,000 rural Indians there is only one dentist in India. So she decided to start oral awareness campaigns for senior citizens living in rural areas and slums.
She purchased 100 sets of gloves, masks, sterilizer bottles, etc., for her first dental checkup camp, which was held in Harsoli village in the Jaipur district of Rajasthan.
“We did checkups of more than 2,500 villagers, interacted with them, ate their food, and even stayed back in their huts,” she says.
Since then, there has been no looking back for Ankita. She has managed to reach out to more than 1 lakh people in Rajasthan and Haryana, as well as in the slums of Delhi.
Her colleagues have started understanding her cause and volunteers just keep adding up.
She has also managed to self-finance mobile dental treatment equipment to conduct simple dental procedures at the camps. After these dental camps are held, a survey report on the general dental health of the area is made and submitted to the respective government authorities. This survey report can be used to keep track of oral health in an area and provide remedies if needed.
For instance, a village in Rajasthan in the Jaipur district has massive fluoride content in the water, which has been causing dental and skeletal defects for generations.
Now, dentists have proposed setting up a fluoride treatment plant in the village to do away with the cause permanently, and started networking with other like-minded people to tackle this problem.
Currently working with the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ankita Chandra plans to continue with the camps on weekends, with the hope of reaching out to as many beneficiaries as she can.
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