An interesting project has been taking place in Kabul, Afghanistan. This region has been in the media spotlight ever since the September 11 attacks in 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.
Prior to this, Afghanistan was an unknown region and unsurprisingly is amongst the world’s poorest nations. President Bush declared war on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. However, one US citizen Dr James Rolfe (see picture) of Santa Barbara, California, decided to help the Afghan people in a different way. He started his own war – against dental disease in Afghanistan.
The whole of Afghanistan is basically without dental care. Almost 30 years of war has destroyed the technical infrastructure there, eliminating many of the essentials for basic living: reliable water, electricity, telephone service, public transportation, refrigeration, decent roads and sanitation, leaving the people to survive as best they can.
Years of civil war killed so many parents that the orphan population comprises almost 10% of the total population. Years of successive drought conditions have made it impossible to grow self-sustaining crops to provide food, and many able-bodied men must leave their families to work as laborers in foreign countries to feed their children. Yet everywhere in Afghanistan, you see the hard-working people courageously trying to make their way against these odds to make their lives better.
The Afghanistan Dental Relief Project is an organisation established to provide dental treatment facilities in underserved areas of Afghanistan, to staff these facilities with volunteers, to train the Afghan people in dentistry and dental technology, to provide dental treatment at no cost to the needy and to provide instruction in methods of preventive dental care.
Our goal is to help them by addressing the almost total lack of professional dental care in Afghanistan. We are working to establish permanent dental centers in underserved areas.
Most of the people seeking services in these centers will never have seen a dentist or have received dental treatment. Dealing with patients who have no dental treatment exposure, volunteer dentists are experiencing that these people have complex problems with their teeth that come from a whole lifetime of cumulative lack of professional care. They have never had their teeth cleaned or had cavities treated in time to prevent serious problems from developing.
Within each person’s mouth, serious conditions exist which undoubtedly cause the person serious pain and certainly affect their overall health, so much so that it is necessary to triage these conditions in order to treat the worst problem first. With almost thirty million people without basic dental care, any dental treatment facility is easily overwhelmed by the incredible demand for services.
Dental technology textbooks are being purchased to educate the orphaned boys in basic sciences so that they might someday be trained to provide dental care in some way themselves, and perhaps a dental training facility could be established that would give precedence to the orphans, both giving them a future and helping solve the long-term needs of the country.
You can be a part of this valuable work. By visiting our website – www.adrpinc.org – and donating online. Your donation will be used exclusively to support the establishment and operation of these centers, as all volunteers pay their own expenses. If you would like to help in some way, please access our website and give us information about yourself. Together, we can bring this meaningful and necessary service to these deserving people.
Finally, the charity is also looking for volunteers in the dental profession to provide services to the Afghan population.
They are also hoping to set up a few more clinics in Afghanistan. Many Afghan children, men and women die from dental disease. Dr James Rolfe has set out to make a much needed difference.