Arriving in Mumbai, India, on December 30, 2006, on route to the rural village of Gadhshisha, an NYUCD team began its firstever outreach to the subAsian continent.
The program, coordinated by Dr. Girish Shah, Clinical Associate Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology, & Medicine and Ms. Lauren Meyers, Assistant Director in the Office of International Programs and Development, consisted of 15 DDS students and six faculty and staff members. Because of a dearth of clinical resources in Gadhshisha, the team traveled with a massive amount of dental supplies, instruments, and equipment, the weight of which required that special arrangements be made with Air India, which graciously waived the overweight luggage charge in recognition of the trip as a humanitarian mission.
The next day, December 31, the team left for Bhuj—the site of a free hospital and rehabilitation center established 30 years ago by a charitable trust, the Shree Bidada Sarvodya Trust—to provide medical care for the people of surrounding villages, including Gadhshisha, a village of 60,000 people with no local dentist. In Bhuj, they were welcomed by Mr. Devchand Furia, a representative of the Shree Bidada Sarvodya Trust, their host for the visit.
The team then traveled for an hour through the desert to reach Gadhshisha, where they rang in the New Year by setting up a temporary clinic at a local school. The next morning, New Year’s Day, they were welcomed in a formal ceremony by religious and spiritual leaders, trustees of Bidada Sarvodaya Trust, community leaders, businessmen and villagers. To mark the occasion, candles were lit and cultural programs and traditional dances were performed.
During the fiveday outreach, the NYUCD team screened 1,027 patients and performed 625 restorations, 324 extractions, 683 sealants, 168 prophies, 36 scaling and root planing procedures and 86 Xrays. Many patients had never seen a dentist, while others had a history of irregular visits, mainly to treat tooth decay that had already reached an advanced stage. Some patients presented with mild to severe fluorosis stains on their teeth. Team members also made presentations on oral health to school children and their teachers.
On the last day, the Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust and the villagers held an appreciation ceremony featuring the presentation of certificates of excellence to every member of the outreach team.