Ronald McDonald House to Sponsor Children’s Dental Health

In a controversial move, the Ronald McDonald House is now taking over the public charity work of children’s dental health in some of the poorest areas of New Zealand. Through the use of a heavily branded mobile dental van, the schools of the South Aukland district of New Zealand will recieve free access to a variety of dental health options to improve oral health and awareness. These vans from the Ronald McDonald House have been used throughout the world for this purpose.

This $500,000 van from the Ronald McDonald House represents the second of these vans to be accepted by the country of New Zealand in seven years. This makes them the only country in the world other than the US to have two of these dental health charity vans. This story is covered in detail through a recent article in the New Zealand Herald.

Benefits for New Zealand Children’s Oral Health

The program manager of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Grant Hiskens, reports that the program is particularly successful: “The current Government loves it. Our PR people are in Wellington all the time. They have spoken recently to people quite high up in the ministry and they are excited about it. The support is there because the Government can see it helps them out.” The region accepting the van noted that they were aware of the branding on the side of the dental van, and did not request that it be removed.

In the opinion of Grant Hiskens, the separation between the Ronald McDonald House and McDonald’s restaurants is clear enough that there is no glaring conflict between the two. They also report that they are glad to be able to provide a service that might not otherwise be available to children of this particularly poor area of New Zealand. Limited government funding means that this type of public service may need to come from more creative options such as the public arena.

Controversial Dental Health Charity

Many of those in the New Zealand have come out against the decision to allow this service to be provided by businesses in the private sector. This includes the chief executive of the New Zealand Dental Association, Dr. David Crum, who stated that he felt that these services ought to be provided by the New Zealand government. In his words, “we have such a history of providing free basic dental care to children. Now we are heading to allowing fast-food chain corporations to be the funder of that? It’s crazy.”

Government health leaders stated that a similar deal elsewhere in the country had not been successful. The incongruity of a fast-food restaurant providing children’s dental health has not been lost on those in power. In the words of one government health representative, “there will be an inherent contradiction in some of this stuff.”

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