Dr. Jacques Verre, who founded Auroville Dental Centre in 1982, introduced us to two main projects that he is using to transform not only the lives of children in the villages surrounding Auroville but the dentists as well. They both center around “0 Concept”. The concept is centered around the idea to strive for “the absence of need”.
After a few years of practice, Dr. Verre was starting to develop bad back pains from his dental equipment and body position when he worked on his patients. Soon after his pain started, he was exposed to Japanese equipment that introduced to him a new way of conducting his dental work. This new equipment changes the positioning of the dentist and the patient to prevent strain on the dentist’s back. Auroville Dental Centre is the only dental clinic in India that uses the Japanese concept of having the patient lie down flat on their back while the doctor sits behind them.
It is a simple change but is a practice that helps provide comfort to both the patient and the dentist. The Human Performance Institute in Japan donated this equipment to Dr. Verre to help create comfort and confidence for those using the equipment at his office. The 0 concept aspect of his equipment is the idea that 0 represents optimal conditions and balance. 0 means “all” or “nothing”, and encourages medical professionals to focus on having complete control and comfort in order to provide their patients with the best service possible. The machines, designed in the 0 concept way, are based on natural human comfort and the harmony between mind and body.
While Dr. Verre was changing the way he worked in Auroville, he was also noticing that the villages around it lacked dental care. Discovering that 95% of Indians have oral problems he knew he had a social responsibility to those around him who were unable to have proper access to dental care. There was a very small amount of dental education and a huge need for cheap care for all. He wanted to reach out to the rural population, especially the children, to help promote oral health.
With the help of Mrs. Suriyagandhi, a nurse, they developed care methods for reaching the children in the villages, and the ADCERRA (Auroville Dental Centre Education Research Rural Action) was started. An example of the work ADCERRA does is the one-week oral health camp that they conducted in Bharuch. During this camp, over one thousand children were given check-ups and oral health education. They were also given treatments when needed.
On top of going into the villages to help the children, Dr. Verre is making sure his work is sustainable by training village women to do small treatments. 76% of the children that they gave checkups to and needed treatment could be treated by the trained village women with basic equipment. The 0 concept also means the absence of need for care. By providing education and by training women, Dr. Verre is reaching towards the symbolic goal of perfect health.
He is putting in place procedures and giving those in the villages the means to care for themselves and not be dependant on his work. This means that once the camps and checkups are finished, they are no longer needing to rely completely on Dr. Verre for dental care. This is so important with the current fad of voluntourism that often comes in to help communities and then abandons them without putting in place measures that help the community continue to grow. The children are educated, and some women are trained to help when there are problems. He is putting effort into building communities so that they aren’t forced to turn to expensive dental work but instead can treat small problems themselves.
The Auroville Dental Centre works to accomplish the third sustainable development goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages through the ADCERRA. Dr. Verre works on healing not only those in the villages who are in need of oral care but also the doctors who are working on the patients, by focusing on prevention and education. In the future, Dr. Verre wants to make the center self-sustaining, and he wants to train more women in the villages to do simple procedures.