I was sitting in my dentist's waiting room when I noticed second hand books and crafts for sale. While having treatment, I asked my dentist, Aimee Devine, if business was struggling so she had to run a side line! After laughing she told me of her expedition with 'Bridge2Aid' to Tanzania to teach district nurses and health workers to undertake emergency dental care and that she was raising funds to do this.
I saw this as an opportunity to support a cause where I could be certain of funds getting directly to the place of need. And so in August this year, I held an afternoon tea where my friends in the village raised £270. I gave this to Aimee to buy equipment before she left for Tanzania.
Most of us have suffered from toothache (oral pain) at some point in our lives – it can be a debilitating, constant and excruciatingly painful experience, requiring attention from a specialist. But for many people, this is not possible; over 70% of the world's population does not have access to a dentist. It is in the rural areas of developing countries across Africa and elsewhere that dentists are most sorely needed today. Lacking access to basic dental care is a serious problem and if not treated appropriately, tooth problems can lead to infection and even death.
Bridge2Aid has developed a model that provides training for local health workers. The training is carried out by volunteer dentists, nurses, hygienists and therapists from the UK and other parts of the world. For over a decade Bridge2Aid has demonstrated success in both Tanzania and Rwanda, making access to life-changing treatment available to more than 4 million people.
Here's a big Thank You to all who supported this cause from me, Jane Hough and also from Aimee.
As you can see, the venue was little more than a grubby room and my tummy was a make-do headrest. The clinic went well. We saw over 800 patients, extracted over 1000 teeth and all six clinical officers passed their theory and practical tests. Thanks to the support of generous fundraisers, 60,000 people in the Geita area now have access to safe emergency dental care at a nominal cost. The clinical officers are employed by the government so the patients just pay a small, affordable fee a bit like our prescription charge.
The gentleman (wearing the orange top) was suffering from a large swelling and severe pain. This was on our last clinical day and the clinical officer, Hassan, shown in other pictures, dealt with the patient from diagnosis right through to extraction on his own.
Each clinical officer also had to pass cross-infection and sterilisation tests and were given a pressure cooker to sterilise instruments in steam and a set of dental instruments. They were previously just boiling instruments. We saw many HIV patients, including pregnant women. The steriliser and instruments cost £650 per clinical officer so fundraising efforts are gratefully received.
Thanks again for your efforts.