Found in translation: Nelson Refugee Dental Education Translation Project


A dentist embraced Nelson’s refugee community. Richmond dentist, Dr. Jacob Linn, has worked successfully with the region’s largest refugee communities, helping to improve dental knowledge and raise awareness of available dental services.

“I saw a number of refugee patients coming through the Nelson hospital system. I have identified that there is a real need to improve oral health resources in languages ​​that patients can understand. My goal was to break down the language barrier that prevented access to care,” said Dr Linn, who then worked in the Nelson-Marlborough DHB dental department.

In Nelson, the main refugee ethnic groups are Colombians, Burmese and Bhutanese. This became the starting point for the creation of dental resources which were distributed to local dental practices, training providers and the communities themselves.

Dr. Linn successfully applied for a $1000 Oral Health Education Grant from the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) and the Mars Wrigley Foundation Community Service Grant Program.

“We decided to focus on three main refugee communities in Nelson to maximize the reach of the project. The Red Cross Pathways to Settlement program has helped these groups resettle in the Nelson-Tasman area for the past 15 years. As a result, the Red Cross has established links within these communities and assisted in the distribution of these resources.

“What I like about this project is being in contact with different people, including the interpreters, and meeting many people from the community,” concludes Dr Linn.

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