Bridge2Aid has now just completed another Dental Volunteer Programme (DVP) where teams of dental professionals treated approximately 700 patients and trained nine clinical officers in safe, emergency dentistry during their two-week visit to Tanzania.
The two teams made up of 21 dentists and dental nurses, were based in remote areas of the Mwanza region of North West Tanzania where they operated out of basic clinics and administered emergency dental treatment to the local Tanzanians.
Katherine Opie-Smith, who works at The Dental Practice in Dulwich Village, London, and was the clinical lead for one of the teams, said: ‘It was a successful trip, with a very happy and unified team. We all had a great feeling of achievement having got another batch of clinical officers through training.
‘There were one or two interesting cases, along with the usual batch of long-suffering patients who we were glad to help out of pain. One still marvels at the stoicism of the rural population.’
Each trained clinical officer can treat approximately 12,000 patients per year and since Bridge2Aid started running the Dental Volunteer Programme in 2004, more than one million Tanzanians have now had access to pain-relieving dentistry.
Katherine continued: ‘When the nearest dentist is located hundreds of miles away in a major city, it is virtually impossible for people living in the rural villages to see them and indeed, afford to have treatment. In almost every single case, we are the first dental professional the patients have seen and some cannot remember their life before they had dental pain. We saw one little boy aged nine who said he’d been in pain all his life – but he really meant since he had teeth!’
Bridge2Aid operates DVP four times a year in January, February, September and November (though dates are subject to change).
For more information, please contact Ruth Bowyer, visits administrator, on firstname.lastname@example.org.