Dr. Brian Swann
Evan S. Colten helps out in Nicaragua.
Fifty-seven used, A-Dec dental chairs from NYUCD are on their way to Ethiopiaís first dental school and to clinics in several East African and Central American countries, thanks to the efforts of a private practitioner in California and a 13-year-old boy in New Jersey.
Forty-five of the chairs were donated at the request of Dr. Brian Swann, a private practitioner in Oakland, California, who also co-chairs the National Dental Associationís International Committee, an advocacy group for minority dentists and the underserved. Fifteen of the chairs will be installed in Ethiopiaís first dental school, the Jimma University School of Dentistry, which opened last year in Jimma, a city about 100 miles south of Ethiopiaís capital, Addis Ababa. The other 30 chairs are currently stored in Djibouti and will be delivered by Dr. Swann to clinics in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Ethiopia, a nation of approximately 75 million people, has only 48 licensed dentists, all of whom trained in other countries. Dr. Abraham Amlak, Vice President for Facilities and Health Services at Jimma University, led the initiative to open a dental school and recruited physicians to teach anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry to first-year students. Subsequently, several Ethiopian dentists were recruited to teach second-year courses, and efforts are underway to bring in additional faculty from overseas. With the installation of the dental chairs and other equipment donated by dental schools, organizations, and corporations around the world, the Jimma University School of Dentistry is moving closer to its goal of offering a comprehensive dental education.
Halfway around the world, in Guatemala, an additional four used dental chairs donated by NYUCD are to be installed this winter in a new dental clinic in Mataquescuintla, a coffee-growing town thrown into recession by staggeringly low prices in the coffee market.
The request for the chairs came from 13-year-old Evan S. Colten, whose father, Stephen D. Colten, heads ECOM, a worldwide coffee exporter. To mark Evanís Bar Mitzvah, his father encouraged Evan to seek donations for the new clinic and helped him set up an organization, La Fundacion de las Sonrisas (the Foundation of the Smiles), to coordinate the process. NYUCD also donated eight chairs to the foundation for installation in other clinics in Guatemala and Nicaragua.
"NYUCD is pleased to make these contributions to promote access to dental care in medically underserved regions of the world," said Dean Alfano. "In the case of Dr. Swann and Evan Colten, the timing was right, because our facilities renovation project required that we buy new dental chairs for our clinics."