Dental mission participants and their hosts, from left: Dr. Joseph Uyamadu, Dr. Chimere Okezie, Ms. Uju Okeke,
Ms. Karen Thomas, Ms. Su-Yan Barrow, Dr. Esther Kuyinu, Ms. Esther Nduka, Dr. Olayide Adesanya, Dr. Johnathan H. Min,
and his daughter, Joyce, and Reverend Sister Esther Ekumnuo.
The King of Onitsha -- Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe -- at a welcoming ceremony for the mission.
Above: The Obi of Onitsha and royal family members with participants in the U.S. mission.
Esther O. Kuyinu, DDS
Clinical Associate Professor of Prosthodontics
Although blessed with an abundance of oil and other natural resources, Nigeria - Africaís most populous nation - is burdened with health problems and a shortage of doctors. The Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) has responded by conducting annual volunteer medical missions over the past 10 years, and last August, I helped my New Jersey chapter organize the first dental team to participate in such a mission.
We traveled to Onitsha, a city of 875,000, on the banks of the Niger River in a region of southeastern Nigeria bustling with manufacturing and agricultural trade. Many of the patients we saw had never been to a dentist, relying instead on traditional herbal remedies and over-the-counter medications for temporary pain relief from oral health problems. At the invitation of the regionís tribal king and its ministry of health, our team screened over 500 patients, some of whom walked several hours from neighboring villages to see us. During the five days we spent in Onitsha, we treated 350 people - mostly extraction and restoration cases - and diagnosed several salivary gland tumors, mandibular tumors and fractures, and cleft lip and palate cases, which we referred to hospitals for treatment.
Our group included Clinical Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene Su-Yan Barrow; Dr. Chimere Okezie, í93, an oral surgeon from Rochester, New York; Ms. Karen Thomas, a registered nurse from Belle Mead, New Jersey; Dr. Jonathan Min,í91, a general dentist from Matawan, New Jersey, and his daughter, Joyce. We were assisted by Onitsha General Hospitalís Dental Clinic Director, Dr. Joseph Uyamadu; Ms. Esther Nduka, a hospital administrator; Dr. Olayide Adesanya, a dentist from Lagos, Nigeria; and Ms. Uju Okeke and Reverend Sister Esther Ekumnuo, two local dental hygienists. We used curing lights, sterilization equipment, toothbrushes and other equipment and supplies donated by NYUCD, Henry Schein, Inc., the Colgate-Palmolive Company, and Discus Dental. Since returning to the U.S., we have received invitations to provide urgently needed dental services from four other Nigerian regions with large underserved populations. We plan to reach out to Nigerians again next year.
Above: Dr. Esther Kuyinu examines a patient. Behind her, from left, are Dr. Adeniyi Ogunkoya, chairman of the Association
of Nigerian Physicians New Jersey chapter medical mission, and Dr. Clement Okafor, a coordinating physician in Onitsha,
Patients wait to be screened.