A programme to deliver safe emergency dental training to under-developed parts of Africa has been hailed a huge success.
As part of the Bridge2aid programme volunteers from the UK spend two weeks in remote parts of Tanzania training rural clinical officers how to safely extract teeth.
‘I was made aware of the problems that the country has and how important this training would be to the local community, as many people cannot afford to have dental treatment and therefore will put up with chronic pain for months and even years,’ Laura-Anne Johnston, a volunteer from Mydentist, said.
‘The most rewarding part was knowing that I wasn’t just going to be doing charity work for two weeks, then leaving the locals with no more access to dentistry.
‘I knew that we’d be leaving the local population in safe hands if they ever need any future extractions.
‘Over the two clinics we treated about 500 patients.
‘Some of them had been suffering with chronic toothache for months and even years – one lady I saw had toothache for three years.
‘They are usually treated with antibiotics and herbal remedies, or nothing at all.’
With an average income of $1 per day most people in Tanzania are not able to afford dental care.
One of the officers trained by the 10-strong team was 30-year-old Ibrahim Mtama, who serves a rural community where, before his training, people were forced to travel for more than two hours for oral health treatment.
‘Mydentist has been long-term supporters of Bridge2aid,’ Paul Tasman, fundraising and communications manager at dental charity Bridge2aid, said.
‘Each year it commits to sending two dentists to join our training programmes in Tanzania.
‘These dentists then give emergency dental training to rural health workers.
‘The difference that Mydentist make to our work is huge.
‘They are helping some of the poorest people in the world out of pain and we are truly grateful for their support.
‘Working with such a warm and caring group is a great experience.’